Public Affairs

PERCENTAGE OF CSU FRESHMEN NEEDING REMEDIAL EDUCATION DROPS FOR FIRST TIME

The percentage of California State University freshmen needing remedial education has decreased for the first time. About 48 percent of freshmen entering the CSU in the fall of 1999 needed remediation in math, a six percent decrease from the fall of 1998, and 46 percent needed it in English, a one percent decrease from one year earlier. The announcement was made today (Tuesday, March 14) at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting on the San Jose State University campus.

"This is good news for the California State University and California's public schools. It means that CSU partnerships with the state's K-12 schools are beginning to benefit students and improve the quality of public education in this state," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "By working more closely with public high schools to evaluate and improve students' skills, we in turn make the CSU better. But we are just beginning. We have more work to do."

Four years ago, CSU Trustees instituted a policy designed to reduce the number of incoming students requiring remedial education in English and mathematics to no more than 10 percent by 2007.

Since then, the CSU has implemented many initiatives to reduce the need for remedial education including:

  • Offering more summer remedial education programs.
  • Providing early assessment after university admission and before enrollment to help ensure that those who need remedial education receive it during their first term of enrollment.
  • Strengthening teacher preparation.
  • Setting clear standards and assessing performance to ensure students meet high school graduation and university admission requirements.
  • Communicating university competence standards and expectations to students, parents and schools.
  • Informing high schools and community colleges about student performance after the first year of attendance at the CSU so they can evaluate their success.

Last year, the CSU identified 223 schools throughout the state that send the system the highest number of students in need of remedial education, and is concentrating efforts at those schools. In October, the CSU system allocated $9 million to campuses to establish or expand such initiatives at 157 of those schools. Those campuses are providing inservice training for high school teachers to clarify and align CSU and school standards; developing more effective English and mathematics teaching methods; administering and interpreting diagnostic testing; and providing trained CSU student tutors who will work with high school students to strengthen their basic English and mathematics proficiency skills.

Before leveling off in the fall of 1998 the percentage of CSU freshmen identified as needing remedial education had steadily increased for several years, partly because the CSU had increased its efforts to make sure all non-exempt students were tested. More than 99 percent of non-exempt fall 1999 freshmen were tested, up from about three-fourths two years earlier. As the CSU more strictly enforced testing, officials predicted the percentage needing remediation would rise because traditionally those students who tried to avoid the tests were students who most needed remediation.

The goal of the Trustee policy on remedial education is to make sure qualified students are ready for college before they enroll. However, if they are not, the goal is to provide them with the assistance they need as soon as possible. Beginning in the summer and fall of 1998, the CSU strongly encouraged incoming freshmen to obtain the remedial assistance they needed in their first year at the CSU or face disenrollment.

The students listened. More than 79 percent of incoming fall 1998 freshmen needing remedial education became proficient in English and mathematics prior to their sophomore year. An additional 7 percent were granted temporary exceptions on a case-by-case basis, and 7 percent were asked to seek assistance at a community college before returning to the CSU. Another 7 percent left the CSU for other reasons.

The Master Plan for Higher Education calls for the CSU to accept the top third of all high school graduates. All these regularly admitted students earn the equivalent of at least a B average in high school and complete four years of high school English and three years of mathematics.

14 March 2000