May 2019

Many College Students Struggle to Pass Remedial Math. Do They Need to?

PBS NewsHour
Many College Students Struggle to Pass Remedial Math. Do They Need to?

PBS NEWSHOUR—To examine California’s new math courses emphasizing statistics and data science, the PBS NewsHour visited Just Equations at the offices of our founding partner, The Opportunity Institute. In the resulting segment, Christopher Edley, Jr., Opportunity Institute president, highlights how arbitrary math requirements are a civil rights issue. “I appreciate the importance of math more than most, I believe,” noted Edley, a legal scholar with an undergraduate math degree. “But I also appreciate the importance of opportunity… If you have a policy that affects one group in a far different way, more burdens, more obstacles than other groups, then you need to have a justification for choosing that policy….the arbitrariness of imposing an Algebra 2 hurdle is disproportionately painful to poor kids and to minority kids, the kids who are less likely to have had effective math instruction.”

PBS NEWSHOUR—Colleges created remedial education classes to ensure students were sufficiently prepared for more advanced material. But increasingly, there’s a sense that remedial courses are hurting the prospects of the students they are intended to help. As a result, some California colleges and high schools are rethinking their approach to teaching math--with encouraging results. Hari Sreenivasan reports.

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