In a sweeping policy change issued by the California State University last week, incoming students who are found to be unprepared for college-level English and math will no longer be required to take traditional remedial classes before beginning their general education.
The progressive policy changes, which include the expanded use of multiple measures for course placement in the first year, the elimination of non-credit bearing prerequisite courses and a revamped Early Start Program that provides students with college credit, came as an effort to increase graduation rates, and are to be implemented by fall 2018. Remedial courses are taken for no credit, causing countless students to become preoccupied with classes that don’t count toward their degrees. The new changes will especially benefit those who may require enhanced academic support to be fully prepared for university-level coursework.
“The California State University is committed to helping all students admitted to a CSU campus achieve their academic goals by allowing them to earn college credit beginning their very first day of class,” said Loren Blanchard, CSU’s executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs. “This suite of changes maintains the quality and rigor of the CSU while enabling tens of thousands of students to get needed academic support while progressing toward their degree.”
The new policy changes focus on assessment and placement in written communication and mathematics/quantitative reasoning courses in the first year, dramatically reduce pre-baccalaureate courses that have not provided college credit, and significantly strengthens the university’s Early Start Program.
Instead of the current system, which requires students to undergo an English Placement Test and Entry-Level Mathematics Test, the CSU will expand its use of multiple measures to assess academic readiness of students, including high school grades and GPA, grades in collegiate courses, ACT and SAT scores, Advanced Placement test scores and Smarter Balanced Assessment scores. The EPT and ELM tests will be retired.
The CSU’s Early Start Program will be expanded to include credit-bearing general education courses in written communications and mathematics/quantitative reasoning, along with embedded support, which will be offered the summer before a student’s initial term on campus. Prior to the policy change, the summer program did not count for credit.
Students who would have normally been instructed to take remedial courses will now enroll in the same courses as other students, but may receive extra tutoring or take a course in a “stretch” format that would see the class extended beyond one academic term.
At Stanislaus State, the university is embracing the new changes, which Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Greer said align with the school’s mission of ensuring every student enrolled has the opportunity to succeed.
“We know that of all the students who come into the CSU system, more than one-third require some type of remedial courses. Now, once those students are enrolled, they will be able to take college-level courses for credit, with the appropriate support, instead of remedial courses for no credit,” said Greer. “There are many factors that influence graduation rates, but being able to have all their courses count for credit from the start certainly will help that effort.”
According to the CSU, these progressive policy changes are expected to significantly improve credit accumulation in the first year of college, reduce the cost of attendance, and increase the percentage of CSU students who ultimately earn a college degree.