Math professors and students enrolled in a remedial math course at Kansas University said the class was valuable to them, despite a recent proposal from a Kansas legislative leader to cut off funding that allows state universities to offer remedial courses.
Kansas University offers one such class, intermediate algebra, which is designed to prepare students for university-level work.
Earlier this month, Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal proposed legislation that would prohibit use of tax dollars for remedial courses at state universities and cut in half the number of students who are admitted but don’t meet minimum admission standards. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee voted to recommend that the full House approve the measure.
O’Neal, R-Hutchinson, has said that students who require remedial courses or who fall below minimum admission standards would be better served going to a community college than risk failing at a regents school.
Margaret Bayer, associate chairwoman of KU’s math department and coordinator of undergraduate studies, said she would prefer the university didn’t have to offer a remedial course.
“But we have to deal with the realities that are here,” she said.
Ingrid Peterson, directs the Kansas Algebra Program, which offers the math class along with the first college-level math course, college algebra. Students in the classes meet in sessions led by graduate students and undergraduate students to review the material. They take common exams and follow a set course design.
She said that an average of 900 students have been enrolled in the class each fall semester since 2007. Many of them, she said, are returning to college after a break of several years. Some are military students, while others are beginning a second career.
Others, she said, come directly from high school. While a composite score of 21 on the ACT, using today’s admissions standards, is good enough to get into KU, that may mean a student’s math score is lower.
Bayer said if KU didn’t offer the class, students would be forced to travel elsewhere, take a summer class or take a class they’re not prepared for.
In many cases, Bayer said she worried that students would take a less rigorous online option that wouldn’t lay a sufficient foundation for more math courses.
Kyle Braakman, a junior from Chicago, enrolled in the remedial course this semester. He tried the college algebra class last semester, but didn’t perform well, so he chose the intermediate algebra course this semester. The rest of his coursework toward his sociology major is going fine, he said.
“For me, math has been the one thing I just can’t knock out,” he said.
He said he appreciated being able to take the lower-level class on campus. If it hadn’t been there, he said he probably would have tried to retake the class he failed before.
“I think it’s good. I think they should keep (the remedial class),” he said. “It’s a nice stepping stone if you are struggling.”