A faculty-led group called the California Acceleration Project has helped 42 of the state’s community colleges offer redesigned, faster versions of remedial math and English tracks. But the group’s co-founders said they would be able to make much more progress if the University of California changed its transfer credit requirements.
As InsideHigher Ed reports: “Remedial courses are widely seen as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to improving college graduation rates, as few students who place into remediation ever earn a degree.
“The problem is particularly severe for black and Hispanic students, who account for almost half of the California community college system’s total enrollment of 2.4 million. More than 50 percent of black and Hispanic community college students place three or more levels below college mathematics, said Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College. And only 6 percent of those remedial students will complete a credit-bearing math course within three years of starting the first remedial course.
“A key reason for abysmal pass rates is the length of remedial sequences, argue Snell and Katie Hern, an English instructor at Chabot College, which, like Los Medanos, is a two-year institution located in California. “The lower down you start, the fewer students complete,” Hern said.
“The two instructors decided to do something about the problem. In 2010 they founded the California Acceleration Project. Armed with research from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advanced of Teaching and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, they encouraged their peers to offer shorter remedial sequences in math and English. Continue reading “Calif community colleges focussing on help courses”
The SAT is changing. Again. For the second time in just over a decade, the College Board, which administers the exam, is planning to redesign the exam, writes James Murphy in The Atlantic.
“The details of the redesign aren’t public yet, but it looks like the result will be similar to the last time: Several cosmetic changes will raise the anxiety of students and their parents but will likely fail to address the deepest problem with the test or even make it worse. This is good news for people like me, who make a living as an SAT tutor, but bad news for everybody else.
“When the redesigned SAT premiered after several years of planning in 2005, there were two major changes, one to content and another to structure. The old Math and Verbal (renamed Critical Reading) sections were joined by a Writing section, which includes an essay assignment that asks test takers to “develop a point of view on an issue,” such as, “Should we question the decisions made by figures of authority?” or “Can success be a disaster?” And, as a result of adding Writing to the test, the total length of the test increased by 25 percent, the number of sections went from seven to ten, sections were shortened, and the number of questions in the Math and Reading Sections went down, making each question more valuable as a percentage of the available points while increasing the fatigue factor on the exam, as College Board’s own researchers acknowledged.
“The essay has provoked many criticisms (here, here, and here), but the loudest critic of the essay these days is David Coleman, the president of the College Board, which administers the SAT. Coleman was the lead architect of the Common Core State Standards, which now shape the English Language Arts and Math curriculums in public primary and secondary schools in 45 states. He’s been praised by Arne Duncan, Bill Clinton, Time magazine, and others as a champion of academic reform. He has now turned his attention to fixing the essay section of the SAT. Continue reading “Again changing the SAT writing exam”
A math learning disability similar to dyslexia affects 6 percent of people, although it gets little attention.
“Dyscalculia” is discussed in Discover Magazine as excerpted below:
“Steph Zech graduated from high school this spring with an admirable academic record. She especially loved chemistry, writing and literature — though she has some reservations about Dante. A bright and diligent student, she took two Advanced Placement classes her senior year, sailing through both.
“But when it comes to math, Steph has struggled mightily. At age 17, she still counts on her fingers to add 3 and 5. She doesn’t know her multiplication tables. She can’t understand fractions, process concepts of time such as “quarter after” or read dice without counting the dots. She did recently figure out that if something costs 75 cents, the change from a dollar should be 25 cents. But when asked what the change would be if the price were 70 cents, she considers at length before venturing, “15 cents?” Continue reading “Math disability affects 6 percent”