The Commercial Appeal this morning covers a new approach to developmental (remedial) courses in our state’s community colleges and universities.Â I was shocked, however, at the opening statement:
More than half of all students who enter college in Tennessee are not academically prepared and require at least one remedial course, according to the Tennessee Board of Regents. The problem is growing.
Further down, the article clarifies that 70% of the students enrolled in remedial courses are at community colleges, which is really the appropriate place for such instruction.Â Given the increase in enrollment in our universities due to the lottery scholarship, most of the state’sÂ 4-year programs can be more selective in their admissions process.
The News-Sentinel reports this morning that one-third of UT’s applicants last year carried a 4.0 GPA in high school.Â Some with a GPA as high as 3.5 were turned away.Â At the same time, enrollment is up — so we’re getting not only more students into college, but more of the most able students are staying in-state.
There is a place for developmental coursework, which may be particularly necessary for people who start or return to college after several years in the workforce.Â However, technology should be utilized wherever possible to assist in the remedial instruction, since it ought to be a refresher course for anyone enrolled.
Assuming it’s true that the skills for college-readiness and workforce-readiness are the same (as oft-stated by Gary Nixon, Executive Director of the State Board of Education), high schools are going to have to improve the delivery of instruction in the areas where remediation is most needed.Â Usually, that’s math; sometimes English.Â In order to do so and still graduate these students in four years, it seems rational that some of the currently required courses (wellness, for example) should be waived for those needing additional instruction in a college-readiness area.