February 11, 2002 Vol. VI, No. 10



CSU Remedial Education Report Shows Mixed Results

Cal State Remedial Ed Programs Are Working, But High School Graduates Still Struggle

The Cal State system's latest status report on remedial education contained both good and bad news: although CSU campuses are succeeding in getting students proficient in English and math during their freshmen year, far too many high school graduates are still arriving at CSU campuses lacking those essential skills.

In their annual report to the CSU Board of Trustees in late January, CSU officials said the system has succeeded in having virtually all incoming freshmen take placement tests in English and math prior to enrollment. And likewise, results show almost all freshmen that persist into their second year on CSU campuses do gain proficiency by then in English and math. At Cal State Northridge, 98 percent of the fall 2000 freshmen that persisted into their second year were judged fully proficient by then in English and math. But among high school graduates arriving in fall 2001 as freshmen, prior to taking any CSUN classes, only 39 percent were judged proficient in English and math.

CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed and David Spence, the system's executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer, said the CSU plans to maintain its current remedial education policy and goals, while accelerating efforts to get high school students fully prepared before they arrive at CSU campuses.

"The message is we need to stay the course," Spence said. "I really believe in two to three years, we'll start to see more results, better results." CSU trustees adopted the current remedial education policy and goals in 1996, and 2001 was the first benchmark point of the policy. The policy has even higher systemwide proficiency benchmarks set for 2004 and 2007.

To meet those goals, Spence and some trustees talked of placing greater emphasis on getting high school graduates who need remedial help to take those classes during the summer before they arrive as freshmen at CSU campuses. "We need all of our campuses to move in this direction," Spence said.

And, CSU officials unveiled a new proposal to achieve statewide English and math placement testing of high school juniors, which would give those needing help time to hone their skills during their senior year prior to enrolling at CSU campuses. Spence said the CSU hopes to pilot the testing proposal this summer and implement it statewide by spring 2003.

Under the proposal, the CSU system would accept an augmented version of the California Standards Test in English and math, which high school students already take, as a CSU placement test. Students who achieve adequate scores on the CST test would be deemed proficient by the CSU. That would exempt them from taking the CSU's own placement tests.


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