CUNY Adjusts Amid Tide of Remedial Students
Not surprisingly, such widespread failure at the K-12 level leads to a HUGE remediation problem at colleges like the City University of NY schools. The saddest part is that many of the students don't even know how far behind they are because they got good grades and were told that they were doing well in high school:
The City University of New York has long spent much of its energy and resources just teaching new students what they need to begin taking college-level courses.
But that tide of remedial students has now swelled so large that the university's six community colleges — like other two-year schools across the country — are having to rethink what and how they teach, even as they reel from steep cuts in state and local aid.
About three-quarters of the 17,500 freshmen at the community colleges this year have needed remedial instruction in reading, writing or math, and nearly a quarter of the freshmen have required such instruction in all three subjects. In the past five years, a subset of students deemed "triple low remedial" — with the most severe deficits in all three subjects — has doubled, to 1,000.
The reasons are familiar but were reinforced last month by startling new statistics from state education officials: fewer than half of all New York State students who graduated from high school in 2009 were prepared for college or careers, as measured by state Regents tests in English and math. In New York City, that number was 23 percent.
Many of those graduates end up at CUNY, one of the nation's largest urban higher-education systems, which requires its community colleges to take every applicant with a high school diploma or equivalency degree.
To bring thousands of students up to speed, those colleges spent about $33 million last year on remediation — twice as much as they did 10 years ago. They are expanding an immersion program that funnels hundreds of students exclusively into remedial classes.
But there is concern that the effort is diverting attention from the colleges' primary mission.
…Students are often surprised to learn that they still have hurdles to clear before they can begin college-level work. As a freshman at LaGuardia, Angel Payero, 18, took the necessary assessment tests in August and discovered that he was deficient in reading, writing and math.
"Throughout high school, I was a good math student, and to find out that it was my lowest grade of all three was really surprising," said Mr. Payero, who graduated from the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry.
Neither of his parents, who are from the Dominican Republic, attended high school, he said. Yet Mr. Payero yearns for a career in psychology. "I feel like I can really understand people and where they come from," he said.