Friday, August 4, 2017

Excellence, Diversity: Pick One

You really do not need to make a binary choice on this; there are plenty of smart blacks, Hispanics, and LGBTs.  But the California State University system has apparently decided that this is a binary choice and are choosing against excellence.  From American Power, quoting the Los Angeles Times:
Cal State plans to drop placement exams in math and English as well as the noncredit remedial courses that more than 25,000 freshmen have been required to take each fall — a radical move away from the way public universities traditionally support students who come to college less prepared than their peers.
In an executive order issued late Wednesday, Chancellor Timothy P. White directed the nation’s largest public university system to revamp its approach to remedial education and assess new freshmen for college readiness and course placement by using high school grades, ACT and SAT scores, previous classroom performance and other measures that administrators say provide a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of students’ knowledge.
Cal State will no longer make those students who may need extra help take the entry-level mathematics (ELM) test and the English placement test (EPT).
The new protocol, which will go into effect in fall 2018, “facilitates equitable opportunity for first-year students to succeed through existing and redesigned education models,” White wrote in a memorandum to the system’s 23 campus presidents, who will be responsible for working with faculty to implement the changes....
Under the new system, all Cal State students will be allowed to take courses that count toward their degrees beginning on Day 1. Students who need additional support in math or English, for example, could be placed in “stretch” courses that simultaneously provide remedial help and allow them to complete the general math and English credits required for graduation.
Faculty are also encouraged to explore other innovative ways to embed additional academic support within a college-level course. A few other states have experimented with these approaches, and the results so far are encouraging, administrators said.
“This will have a tremendous effect on the number of units students accumulate in their first year of college,” said James T. Minor, Cal State’s senior strategist for academic success and inclusive excellence. “It will have an enormous effect on college affordability, on the number of semesters that a student is required to be enrolled in before they earn a degree, and it will have a significant impact on the number of students that ultimately cross a commencement stage with a degree in hand, ready to move into the workforce, ready to move into graduate or professional school."
Once you cut through all the pretentious gibberish, CSU has decided that requiring students to demonstrate basic competence in English and math is too hard on students who are simply not ready for college.  Let me emphasize that the CSU system is not an elite system like UC Berkeley or UCLA.   It looks like CSU, although not phrasing this in explicitly racial terms, is concerned about students coming in from high schools that are failing to adequately prepare their students.  Let's not kid ourselves: it isn't Palo Alto, or Palisades High that are the source of the unprepared students, but kids coming in from South Central and Oakland.  Tragically, these students are likely the top of their graduating classes in districts that are both underfunded and struggling to teach students who are coming from homes where education has never been a major priority.

Lowering standards is at serious risk of diminishing the meaning of a college degree.


James Gibson said...

They implemented these tests in the 80s when so many students entering the CSU system were failing their first year courses and effectively being dropped. That nearly happened to me,I should have gone a year at City college to complete the courses that prepare students for Calculus and first level Chemistry. Expect they will also come up with more remedial, super basic courses for these students, who will also become professional students.

Will said...

The single biggest complaint I had with the two year colleges here in CA (SF Bay Area) was their insistence that everyone was incompetent in various basic classes, and mandated that remedial classes must be taken. (This was in the 80's)

In retrospect, I have decided that it was a scam on their part, designed to pad the student's time (and therefor money spent) in school. Granted, I had been out of school for over a decade. I wasn't even looking for a degree, so much as increasing my ability to do better work.

What killed it for me was those semester classes would set me back at least one year, since most of the engineering useful classes start in the first semester. Then, I found that I couldn't get a slot in the needed classes the following year. Big influx of (Asian, IIRC) young students that seemed to have some sort of priority over returning students. I kept running into these apparent waves of students, and the classes would be full when they opened registration, with long lists of alternate students. I would go to the first class, and discover more hopeful students than the actual class held. Schools couldn't find instructors, I was told.

I was attempting this while working full time in high-tech companies, that normally mandated OT at the drop of a hat. More than once, the conflict came down to job or school. Managers were not supportive, and if Chinese, actively worked against schooling. (I suspect that was due to their cultural zero-sum attitude, where all possible/potential future competitors must be sidelined)

I was getting home from classes near midnight, and had to be up at 4:30 to be at work by 6:00.
Eventually, I got tired of dropping classes, and quit playing the game.

Billy Oblivion said...

It is highly likely that those districts aren't underfunded, but rather that because *some* of the parents don't value education, the children in those districts have less respect for the buildings, schools and equipment thus requiring additional outlays.

Further more, it is likely that every teacher who *can* gets out of those districts as soon as possible, leaving only the crusaders and the cr*p.