Remedial courses find new forms

CSU Chancellor Timothy White issued an executive order in August to eliminate the school’s placement exams and remedial courses for incoming freshman whose math and English skills may not meet college standards.

The order is expected to increase the rate of graduation from four-year universities and increase the affordability of college, White said. But there is controversy if this will actually help students or leave them unprepared.

“The idea that students have to take courses that don’t count toward their degree, costs them money and costs them time. It really invites first-generation students to question whether or not they really belong in college ” said James Minor, a CSU senior strategist for academic success.

Pierce will not be getting rid of the remedial English classes, but will instead have students pass English 28 and English 101 in one semester. Starting this spring, two English instructors, Mike Urquidez and Dustin Lehren, will be teaching the courses.

The course will start off as English 28 from Feb. 5 to April 1, then it will switch to English 101 for the remainder of the semester, which is April 2 to June 4 from 9:35 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

It will be twice as much work, but if students are willing to rise to the challenge they deserve the chance to knock out the units in a timely manner, Urquidez said.

“Pierce students come from many different backgrounds and many different challenges. One way to help overcome those challenges is by being more conscious of your time, because the longer you’re here, the less likely you are to get out,” Lehren said.

Lehren and Urquidez will be using a “cohort model,” which is a shared curriculum, on the idea of Los Angeles, looking at is as a subject in terms of social justice and how the city has excelled and failed.

With this shared curriculum, the instructors can work with the tutoring center to better accommodate students taking these courses. If tutors know exactly what the instructors are distributing, then they can give them focused attention.

Lehren thinks that we don’t need to make college easier, but harder, so that students can become invested and engaged in their education.

“What we are trying to do is give students more options and have opportunities to get ahead on their education as much as we possibly can,” Urquidez said. “Hopefully, they get through the sequence a little quicker.”

Urquidez said the course isn’t for every student.  

“We are looking for students who are willing to have the dedication required for the class,” Urquidez said.  

Urquidez wants to be clear that students shouldn’t take his class just because it is shorter, but because they need a certain skill level coming into the course.