Remedial college classes: A view from the high school side

Jay Bullock:

MPS and the legislature can’t fix this, as the problem is much larger than this city or this state. And it goes against the grain of what I and much of the rest of the district believes, that there’s a benefit of going through the application and admission process and going through the rigors of university life. Though I know many of my students would be better suited by a two-year degree or other post-high school training program, I want to see them apply to a real college because it’s a good experience for them.

Second, a D is still passing. MPS hasn’t released recent data that I’ve found, but before the state report card system, the district put out its own report cards. These always showed that the mean grade point average for high school students was around 1.0. D students can pass classes, accumulate credits and graduate just fine while remaining demonstrably below average.

The state – thankfully – does not have a high-stakes graduation exam that students must pass before earning their diplomas, or for that matter any other specific set of standards that must be met before the end of high school. The exception is the mandatory civics test that goes into effect this coming school year, but that is hardly going to be a barrier to graduation the way it’s written into law. In any case, it wouldn’t tell us a thing about whether students will need math or English remediation in college.

Without such standards, schools are able to send below average, D students on into their adult lives. Which is good for those of us who would rather not be teaching 40-year-old high school students who never passed English 10, but bad for universities who enroll them into their programs.