Archive for Wednesday, March 21, 2012

As Legislature ponders cuts, KU defends remedial class

March 21, 2012


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.”


scarletbhound 6 years, 1 month ago

A 21 composite on the ACT for admission to KU is pathetic. My golden retriever could score that well. Rather than catering to low performers who have no business at a major university, KU should raise its admission requirements substantially. But, of course, that might mean lower enrollments, which would reduce the all important tuition dollars that KU craves. Kansas has one of the best community college systems in the country. People who can't hack it in freshman math, English and other basic subjects should not be consuming scarce educational resources that should be devoted to students who did the work in high school and deserve the full attention of the university. KU will never rank among the nation's top-notch schools until it stops admitting so many dunderheads.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of dunderheads, you have no clue what you are talking about.

A score of 21 is accepted at other colleges in the state, depending on their gpa. The ACT is a timed test, and I know students who do fine in their classes in school, but have trouble finishing the test because they do not read as fast, or they take longer to complete math problems. Not every student is great and quick at every subject.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 1 month ago

"Not every student is great and quick at every subject" And not every graduating high school senior deserves a spot at the flagship state institution. A more appropriate placement for both the student and the college system would be at a community college, until such a time as they are able to meet the standards of the institution with the highest standards.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

And have them bored at a community college, because they aren't good in one subject? That's just as ridiculous.

parrothead8 6 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of dunderheads, how do you suggest KU fund an entire university during a time of shrinking state support without the "all important tuition dollars that KU craves"?

gatekeeper 6 years, 1 month ago

Maybe you'd understand why it's 21 if you bother to look at what the average ACT scores are in KS and nationwide. The national average is 21 and KS average is 22.

Evan Ridenour 6 years, 1 month ago

It wasn't until this year that KU was given the go ahead to explore raising requirements significantly. It isn't KU's fault that they were REQUIRED to admit essentially every Kansas resident who wanted to attend. Don't blame KU, blame the state legislature and the Board of Regents...

Centerville 6 years, 1 month ago

I thought we were spending 80 percent of our bloated to bursting state budget on public schools so students would at least have the basics when they left. How many remedials graduated from taxpayer funded schools? Or is that too un-pc?

chootspa 6 years, 1 month ago

Statistically students do the same in private and public schools when factors like parent education level and socioeconomic status are taken into account. Therefore, I would imagine the percentage of students in remedial courses would be about the same when the same factors are considered. Or is that too un-your-obvious-bias?

Like the article said, many of these students are returning students after a long absence in school. I scored very high on my ACT in math, but I'd be hard pressed to solve a trig problem today, because I just didn't use it. A remedial course would be a perfect refresher that would prime me for learning higher level math courses.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 1 month ago

I actually agree with O'Nieele in spirit, but he is just using this as an excuse to cut KU's budget.

He doesn't give a crap about remedial classes, but sees this as an opportunity to cut at KU.

chootspa 6 years, 1 month ago

If he cared, he'd use it as a chance to boost the CC environment, because that's good policy. Banning the classes outright is ignorant. If a student meets KU admissions standards but cannot complete the coursework or get remedial courses to help them get there, that sets them up for frustration and failure. If the end goal is to make more dropouts and not less, bravo.

WilburNether 6 years, 1 month ago

The high schools that graduated the students who require remedial courses should be billed for the cost.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

And maybe yours should be included, since you can't read or comprehend the article. Many people are returning to school or out of the military and need a refresher course or reminder.
And not everyone is good at math (or english or science or history, etc.)

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 1 month ago

I joined the army at 20 years of age and after 5 years got out with the Army College Fund benefit. I had sense enough to know that I couldn't jump right into university level course work and I spent two years at JCCC doing things like elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, trigonometry, introduction to writing, etc. before transferring to KSU. I graduated KSU with a degree in engineering and went on to get my masters degree in engineering as well. People who can't do college algebra should not be enrolled in a university (period). IMHO, junior college is where they belong for remedial course work.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

Again, spend a year at a community college to do math, and then be bored with science and the other courses. that doesn't make sense either.

Not everyone is good at math. not everyone is good in english or history or science. NOT EVERY STUDENT IS GOOD AT EVERYTHING.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 1 month ago

It's too bad all people aren't as smart as some of these jerks on this board. Sorry but everyone did not grow up in white middle class or upper neighborhoods. What poor excuses for people you are.

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 1 month ago

Junior college is where you go to get intermediate algebra classes, not a university. That's just common sense, IMHO. Who the heck goes to university to learn intermediate algebra? Foolish people, that's who.

Adrienne Sanders 6 years, 1 month ago

If 900 people a semester need this class, is it even right to call it "remedial"? I mean, clearly people need it. Plus I"m assuming the students pay for the credit hours like they do for any other course, so how is cutting it going to save a bunch of money?

Paul R Getto 6 years, 1 month ago

Check out the Ivy League schools' policy on this sometime.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

I imagine there are other DI and relevant institutions all over the country which offer remedial or intro math, not just KU.

Jillian Andrews 6 years, 1 month ago

There are many talented, intelligent students who have difficulty or full-blown Learning Disabilities in one particular area only. We are going to tell these students they can't go to KU? Or they can, but have to drive to the next town to take a developmental math class at a community college? It's ignorant legislation. Plain and simple.

Jillian Andrews 6 years, 1 month ago

And yes, Mom of 3, every college and university in the state, and across most of the country, offer developmental classes.

Gotalife 6 years, 1 month ago

Wow!!! It seems very very obvious that all the trash talk on here is really about something other than remedial courses. For those using this kind of talk, it's really about jealousy. KU has fantastic academic programs, they are a major research institution, and thank goodness strive to help non-trads come back to obtain degrees as well, and don't forget that their athletics speak for themselves. They are after all, Kansas!! Get over it.

gatekeeper 6 years, 1 month ago

So many commentors on here that don't know what regular algebra at KU is like and why the remedial course if offered and needed.

College Algebra 101 at KU is self taught (it was when I was a student in the early 90's). You go every week and take a test and can keep taking it over and over until you pass it.

I had a 28 on my ACT. I also have a math learning disability. With instruction, I do ok in math. Being handed a book and being told to learn it myself didn't work.

So, someone with an above average ACT score who excelled in all my other classes shouldn't have been able to take a course that would help me be able to pass the regular class and get my degree? I paid for that remedial course.

mom_of_three 6 years, 1 month ago

exactly. And a 21 on an ACT doesn't mean the student isn't smart enough for KU.

Everyone learns differently. one remedial math class does not make kansas a lesser institution. Many other schools across the country offer a remedial math class.
If someone isn't good in math, but great in other subjects, that person would be bored to death at a juco. how good is that for them?
I know kids getting out of high school, who did great, but are at jucos due to cost, and are bored. boredom in school is not a good thing.

KU_cynic 6 years, 1 month ago

If school districts across Kansas cut their spending on higher-cost sports programs and facilities (that's football, for those who can't read between the lines), students spent less time on such frills and more time on academic essentials, and together we spent more money, time, and effort on math, then KU wouldn't have to deal with so many students in need of remediation.

Crazy talk, I know.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

We need balance. The primary purpose of the schools is to educate young people. However, life is enriched with music, arts and even sports. I think these are false choices. We just need everyone in our society to realize it is a patriotic obligation to provide for the education of our youth whether you have kids or not, whether they are grown or in school, etc.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

Given the inability of some GOP legislators to actually read legislation they are voting on, I'm left wondering how many GOP legislators would benefit from a remedial English course.

JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 1 month ago

Since the bill that led to all the flack in the news recently had to do with taxation, perhaps a remedial math class would be beneficial as well...

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