Remedial classes dropped

Success rates and drop rates may seem like opposites, but a new law may challenge that notion.

With Assembly Bill 705, increased drop rates may ultimately lead to higher success rates. The bill attempts to increase the probability that students will take and complete transfer-level English and math classes in a one-year timeframe. To achieve this, students are no longer required to take assessment tests to be placed into transfer-level courses during the fall 2019 semester. Instead, course-level placement will be determined by high school coursework, grades, and GPA.

Ultimately, the bill is supposed to decrease drop rates over time. 

While the goal is to increase student success, Chair of the Student Success Committee Crystal Kiekel notes that drop rates are currently rising as a result. 

“More students are dropping math courses than they had in the past, and they think it’s because all of these people who may not have otherwise gone into transfer-level courses are getting in there and getting a little freaked out,” Kiekel said. 

Many students are dropping remedial English and math classes because they are too easy and it takes longer to graduate if they have to work their way up to the transfer-level courses. 

Academic Senate Representative Sabrina Prieur explains that the district is unsure of the exact number of students who are dropping these English and math classes because it’s still too early in the semester. 

“A lot of times, they don’t have the assignments back at three and four weeks,” Prieur said. “When they start getting their papers back, and start having those really large assignments come in, then that’s really going to be a better indicator of the number of people who are going to be dropping.” 

In order to raise the number of students that start in transfer-level English and math classes, the school has lowered the number of remedial courses offered. Students must meet two requirements to be placed in a pre-transfer course; they must be highly unlikely to succeed in the transfer course, and enrolling in a class one level below must increase their chance of success in the transfer-level course.

With fewer remedial courses easily available to students, colleges are now required to offer more help and support programs to students to ensure their success in transfer-level classes.

For example, Pierce College has embedded tutors in every English 101 course. Additionally, there is a writing center, 30-minute tutoring appointments and workshops run by faculty members and tutors. 

“There are all these additional supports in place that weren’t there a year ago. We just need to figure out how to get the support to the students who need it,” Kiekel said. 

Chairman of Mathematics Eddie Tchertchian believes that support services are important, but so are remedial classes. 

“It’s not gonna help with the drop rates, but I think it’s definitely an option that students need,” Tchertchian said. “I urge all students to look for their rights because we should be offering the students the choice of what class to take, certainly not dictating to them what class to take. By removing those remedial courses, the chancellor removed their choice.”