Trying to Solve a Bigger Math Problem

Feb 4, 2017 by

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Algebra is clearly a stumbling block for many incoming college students. Nearly 60 percent of community college students end up in remedial math — that’s more than double the number in remedial English. Four-year public colleges are not far behind. According to government studies, 40 percent of their incoming students take at least one remedial class; 33 percent are in math.

One explanation is obvious: limited academic preparation. Another is that much of the community college population is older, and rusty at factoring quadratics and finding inverse functions. Less obvious is that students end up in remediation who don’t need to be there.

There’s evidence for this, most recently in an analysis published in September by the National Center for Education Statistics. To determine if students are ready for college-level work, colleges often rely on one thing: the score on a test, be it the ACT, SAT or Accuplacer, the most common of the placement tools.

But when the N.C.E.S. took a deeper look and considered two additional factors — grade-point average and level of math taken in high school — it found that 40 percent of “strongly prepared” students at public two-year colleges and 13 percent at four-year institutions had taken remedial math.

Source: Trying to Solve a Bigger Math Problem – The New York Times

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