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California Expands Math Horizons for College Students

A new policy at California Community Colleges will open math pathways and no longer require most students to take remedial math courses, according to a Medium blog by Senior Project Director Pamela Burdman.

MEDIUM — It’s a milestone that wipes away arbitrary prerequisites that have held back students for decades.

As of yesterday, it’s the official policy of California’s community colleges that, with few exceptions, students at the system’s 112 colleges should not be compelled to take remedial math courses. In addition, students should have the option to enroll in mathematics sequences that are relevant and interesting to them rather than the algebra sequences that have traditionally been required.

Researcher John Hetts, whose analyses were instrumental in developing the new policies, called the change “a new beginning for understanding the capacity of community college students and their actual preparation for college,” in a tweet.

This is important because remedial sequences as well as misaligned prerequisites have been shown to hinder, rather than help, students in progressing toward a degree. Furthermore, even if a few students could benefit from such courses, the tests that have traditionally been used to determine who must take them had little ability to predict which students those are.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of California students — including a large proportion of African American and Latinx students — may have been required to enroll in remedial algebra courses that they don’t want or need to take in order to advance in their education.

Read the blog

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