Revisiting the remediation scam



I’ve written before on the remediation scam. The vast majority of classes on campus, at least community college campuses, are remedial, pre-high school coursework (with the high school coursework most of my readers would be familiar with being now regarded as college coursework).

I’ve shown many times that 90% of the academic coursework on community college campuses is pre-college, with much of it 6th grade level or lower. It’s well known and quite documented that 90% of remedial students fail to get even a 2 year degree in 3 years. Despite what admin says, you can’t make up six to nine years of public school in two semesters.

Advocates for a Better College (ABC) is a Facebook page, with posts mostly in protest of the frauds at Reedley College, but it also focuses other horrors of higher education. Naturally, there is no particular name associated with page: we all know that if you’re going to point out the frauds of higher education today, you need to do so anonymously.

ABC posted the stats for remediation in California. I’ve done much research on remediation, and California is representative of much of the United States in this regard (there are a couple of northern states in the central US where the remedial students would be considered college students anywhere else, but these states have such small populations that they are just special cases).

Like any honest educator, ABC looks are remediation, realizes something is wrong, and knows the obvious way to fix it:

The issue of remedial education ties into the census day and financial aid scam. Essentially, remedial students are recruited to fill seats, often with huge grants, yet the failure rate of remedial students is staggering.
Federal and state grants should not be given to individuals who are not academically prepared for a college level education, nor should class registration favor remedial students, regardless of whether they are returning for another semester/year.

Administration is paid based on the size of the campus, not on the caliber or success of the students. Even schools with legitimate coursework still have vast halls and endless sections of remedial coursework. This coursework is in violation of Federal law, but the money, the huge sums of money, administrators get for selling these courses make such considerations irrelevant. The coursework is paid for by student loans and the Pell Grant scam…and these students wander from campus to campus, getting this money, giving most of it to the colleges, and taking the scraps home. It’s an open, everyday fraud on most every campus in this country.

But let’s pretend it’s not a fraud. How much good is remediation doing, under the assumption this is a good faith effort to help people? Let’s look at the stats:

In Math, at 1 level below, 57.4% do not complete a degree/certificate, or become transfer prepared, at 2 levels below, 57.4% do not complete a degree/certificate, or become transfer prepared, 3 levels below, 68.6% do not complete a degree/certificate, or become transfer prepared, at 4 levels below, 74.6% do not complete a degree/certificate, or become transfer prepared.*

Allow me to explain the above. “College Algebra” is the math that was (and is at many schools) offered to 10th grade students in much of the country, or at least by the 11th grade. I tutor high school students as well as teach at a university; I’ve seen with my own eyes that “College Algebra” is the same course as the early high school algebra.

Then we have the “below” courses, and at many schools, these courses are broken down in many ways. Each “below” is roughly two grade levels (this may seem odd, but the gentle reader should understand that the public schools do an abhorrent job of covering material, and so, indeed, what even a fake college does in 4 months is comparable to two public school years).

Thus the “4 levels below” course referenced above is roughly 2nd grade or 3rd grade level work. Again, I’ve taught such courses at the community college, where I try to get the ideas across of how to add and subtract whole numbers, for example. I do the best I can, but attendance is poor; for some reason, almost nobody shows up once the checks are distributed. Admin is happy to tell me, repeatedly, the reason is because I’m a terrible teacher…but I notice attendance is better during semesters where there’s a delay in handing the checks to the students. Until the delayed check day arrives, of course, as then classes empty out, not to fill again until next semester.

Administration has enforced these courses, because they can grow the school this way, but the success rates, as given above, are awful. Everyone who walks onto campus gets tossed into a course somewhere, even people who have no interest in education (and I’m making no judgement there). Administration helps them with the forms, and takes a huge cut of the loan/grant money.

Let’s see the odds of a student enrolling in a “4 levels below” course, actually making it through College Algebra:

As above, this student has only a 25.6% change of making it through that first course. After doing so, he’ll have a 31.6% chance of making it past the “3 levels below” course.

Just two more courses to go before finally getting to an actual college course!

Each of these two more courses pass 42.6% of their students. Assuming good faith that this really is how it works, then, we have the following chance that, after 2 years of “college,” the student will be able to legitimately begin his 2 year degree program:

0.256 * 0.316 * 0.426 * 0.426 = 0.015.

So we can reasonably guess around 1.5% of these lowest level remedial students (and keep in mind, this level, the lowest common denominator, has a large market share, to put things in terms an administrator can understand).

That’s just the chance of making it to College Algebra! Realize on many campuses, this course is the “impediment to graduation” (as a deanling put it), the hardest course on a community college campus. Perhaps 50% of students pass College Algebra, and then breeze through the other courses. Hmm, now we’re at 0.7% success rate. Gosh, that’s the kind of rate we see on successful community college campuses. I’ve assumed (falsely) that there’s actual independence in the chance of making through each course, but bear with me; no matter how you make this calculation the end result is always that the chances of a student successfully getting through all this are slim.

ABC posts the success rates for other remedial courses in English, but…yeah, they’re a disaster as well.

For every seat occupied by a failing remedial student, the taxpayer pays the freight not only for the attendance number on Census Day, but also in financial aid grants in the Tens of Thousands of dollars per semester. The college(s) should not have any remedial courses. They should be institutions for higher education, not basic education.

And so, I revisit the horrible disaster of remedial “education” and see nothing has changed. Every educator involved with remedial education recommends that we stop wasting immense resources in this way. But the failure just continues to get bigger and bigger.

This is no surprise, as the people that run higher education are paid very, very, well to see that this level of failure continues to grow.