An article on Minding the Campus, Why Remediation Doesn’t Work, began with a point I have longed to make to President Obama. Exactly how are we going to force people to graduate from college? Should we give them diplomas when they are born, as the article says?
But then the article goes into a serious discussion on why students are not graduating from college in six years.
The crucial question is why remediation does not work. My hypothesis is that there are inadequate incentives for students who arrive without sufficient preparation to take seriously that that have deficiencies requiring remediation. Without incentives to put in the enormously difficult task of learning in a course or two how to read and write effectively, a task they should have learned gradually over many years, they simply go through the motions. The colleges go through the motions also. In egregious cases they make students repeat remedial courses once or twice. But what if students are so underprepared that they need five or six repetitions of remedial course work to show substantial results? No college would dare to require this, and no underprepared student would stand for it.
I have a couple of narrative points. (That is, I have individual stories that prove that what Jackson Toby says won’t happen can and does.)
1. Guy I dated in grad school… He was in college when he learned to read and write. And he managed to graduate within six years. The difference was, perhaps, that he wanted to learn how to do those things.
2. My college allows/requires students who are not making at least a C to continue on in their developmental classes by taking them again. They don’t allow Ds or Fs. If a student is still in class and still doing the work on the drop date (one month before school is out), then they receive an IP and are allowed into another version of the course the next semester without any cost. If a student is not in class and/or not doing the work on the drop date, they are withdrawn.
(Being withdrawn actually has serious consequences. 1. After six Ws, a student must pay full price for their education, not the taxpayer-funded discount. 2. After six Ws in one school, a student is not allowed to graduate from there.)
But it means it is doable.
Now we need to see how it can be done.