Remedial classes: A community college ‘segregation machine’

By Meredith Kolodner, The Hechinger Report and Brad Racino, inewsource

Anthony Rodriguez recalled sitting in a remedial math class at Grossmont College in El Cajon bored out of his mind. The professor was teaching basic math skills that the 18-year-old had already learned in high school.

Rodriguez was forced into remedial math by the community college’s placement test, which assesses a student’s ability to succeed in for-credit, higher education classes. Rodriguez’s test scores dictated at least a year of these low-level math courses. They cost the same as regular classes but don’t count toward a bachelor’s degree.

Each week, Rodriguez watched as fewer and fewer classmates showed up. Eventually, he dropped out too.

“Who goes to college to learn what they were doing in high school?” he asked.

In California, the answer is — a staggering number.

Hundreds of thousands of community college students are placed in remedial classes every year, and few get past them, especially black and Latino students.

“There is no excuse for this,” said Julianna Barnes, president of Cuyamaca College. “It really is a civil rights issue.”

An inewsource/Hechinger Report analysis of California community college data yields stark results. Only 1 percent of African-American students and 2 percent of Latino students who enrolled in the lowest level of remedial math in 2014 made it through an entry-level college math class within two years (the amount of time it’s supposed to take to earn a full associate’s degree).

Read the full story here.


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