Strict plan may lead to summer school
November 30, 2010 4:10 PM
Beginning next summer, SF State's incoming freshmen for the fall 2011 semester will have to start their remedial education before receiving their student ID.
In its meeting last spring, the CSU Board of Trustees decided that all 23 campuses must require students in need of transitional classes offering skills necessary for general education to catch up in math and English.
According to the CSU Chancellor's Early Start Program, students who did not receive a proficient score on their placement tests "will be required to begin remediation prior to the term for which they have been admitted, e.g., summer prior to fall" and must reach proficiency on or before the end of the student's first year.
The math course will be a self-paced course containing 20 modules comprised of instructional videos, homework assignments, and tutoring opportunities.
"Somebody who made enough progress in Early Start Program may be able to skip one or both (of the remedial math classes) depending on how hard the student works," said David Bao, mathematics chair at SF State and contributor to the University's remedial math proposal.
Students must gain an 80 percent proficiency in each module before progressing to the next. The number of modules completed by the end of the four weeks will determine whether the student can skip one or both remedial courses in the fall.
According to Bao, the online math course would help students get a head start on their graduation plan.
"It's just taking the classroom and replacing it with the Internet," Bao said. "You will still have a person caring about your well-being, the only difference is they aren't in front of you."
However, the new English program will not be a class at all. According to Sugie Goen-Salter, director of first year composition and professor of English at SF State, the students will decide based on their prior reading and writing experience, as well as SF State's English course descriptions, which class will suit their needs in the fall. According to Goen-Salter, these ideas won't be worked out until implementation.
"If given good directions, students will make good choices as opposed to a test telling them where they need to go," Goen-Salter said.
Deborah Gerson, SF State representative of the Access and Equity Group, a collaboration of concerned faculty and parents representing all 23 campuses, supports the English Composition solution to mandate but doesn't believe online math classes are effective for freshmen.
"I cannot imagine those who just graduated from high school have the capacity of sitting to do (the class) without support of the teacher and students," Gerson said.
The group views the program as just another admission requirement because students could be dis-enrolled if they fail.
According to a report by the Access and Equity Group, an average of 58 percent of students on all CSU campuses needed remediation in 2009. In some CSUs, up to 93 percent of first-year students need the programs.
Gerson said the reforms raise a civil rights issue because they unfairly target students from disadvantaged areas.
"It punishes the most vulnerable students who are often poor with both inadequate K-12 education and limited resources," Gerson said. "We have successful programs on campus already."
SF State Student Resource Coordinator Nicky Transvina said the student is not to blame for needing remediation and the summer program could prove to be more of a burden by interfering with other obligations such as work, travel and family.
Bao, however, said the online classes offer a more flexible learning environment.
The Early Start Plan will be implemented next summer for a pilot study. According to Bao, future tuition costs have not been largely discussed.
Although the deadline for submission of the proposal has passed, Gerson doesn't expect to hear back from the Chancellor's office for a final approval until after the new year.
"The big thing is the mandatory part of it," Gerson said. "If you create something sufficiently attractive to students, maybe (the plan) would be welcomed. If it was voluntary, there wouldn't be this degree of opposition."
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