Half of SF State students Need More Math and English
April 7, 2005 11:04 AM
Nearly half of all SF State freshmen enrolled this year are not ready for college level math and English courses, according to a report published by the California State University system last month.
The statistics, released in March, show that freshmen throughout the rest of the 23-campus CSU system didn’t fare much better. Of the 38,859 freshmen who are enrolled systemwide this academic year, 63.2 percent were qualified to take college level math courses and 53.4 percent were eligible for college level English.
At SF State, 56.5 percent of freshmen were found eligible to enroll in their first quantitative reasoning course, the math or statistics course required for every student’s general education. And 51.3 percent qualified to enroll in English 114, the first of at least two English courses student need to take in order to graduate.
Students who don’t pass have a year to take remedial coursework or risk expulsion from the university.
SF State math department Chairman Dr. David Meredith said that many high school students skip out on math during their senior year and then fail the Entry-Level Mathematics test because they aren’t prepared or are unaware they needed more help in math.
Since students are being tested earlier and problematic areas are being addressed sooner, there’s an expectation among some CSU officials that there will be a dramatic reduction in students requiring remedial classes, Meredith said.
“It’s disappointing that so many students have difficulty (passing the placement exams),“ Meredith said.
Overall, the CSU system is failing to meet its goal, set in 1996, of having roughly three-quarters of all freshmen proficient in math and English. Over the last two years CSU officials have tried harder to identify college-bound students who aren’t proficient in math and English before they get to college.
In a March 18 teleconference, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said that students who come into the university system unprepared for college level English and math usually take longer to graduate.
The Early Assessment Program is a partnership formed last year between California’s State Board of Education, the California Department of Education and the CSU system. It aims to assess high school students’ math and English abilities during their junior year when they still have one year of high school left to improve their skills.
This year nearly 40 percent of California’s 11th grade students took the test, which evaluated their readiness for college level math and English. Twenty-two percent earned a score high enough to exempt them from taking the CSU’s English Placement Test and 55 percent qualified to take college level math.
Before the EAP, most students qualified to take college level math and English courses by passing the Entry-Level Mathematics Test or the EPT.
Kathy Munderloh, the coordinator of SF State’s Early Assessment Program, spends a lot of time talking to high school students.
“I wake kids up to do something their senior year,” she said.
Her job is to educate high school students on what it takes to succeed in college, so they can avoid taking remedial classes.
Munderloh said that she believes the assistance program will go a long way toward reducing the number of students who need remedial coursework.
“The state is not going to give us much more money for remediation," she said. “Universities shouldn’t be teaching high school. ”
SF State offers more than 42 sections of remedial English courses and 25 sections of remedial math.
Madeline Lynch, an 18-year-old business major, claims an instructor from high school wasn’t effective. In high school she earned A’s in all her math courses except one, where she earned a C, because that teacher “wasn’t very good,” she said.
As a high school senior, Lynch took a break from math and then took the ELM, scoring a little less than what is required to earn an exemption from taking remedial math, she said.
Based on her score SF State required her to take Math 60 and 70, two remedial math courses, which are proving to be refresher courses for her, she said.
This year, the CSU system developed a colorful multi-language poster to reach out to younger students. It’s intended to be hung up in California classrooms to target students from sixth grade to high school and depicts the pathway to college and what students can do at their grade level to prepare for higher education.
“Meet with the school counselor and tell the counselor that your goal is to attend college,” the poster tells future college-bound sixth graders.
“Try to earn A's and B's and put extra effort into English and math,” the poster tells seventh graders.
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