Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Going “Full Florida”
I would love to hear from more Florida community college faculty than the sole faculty member interviewed in the report you linked to (one prof, who warned of faculty burn out, without explanation). The report suggests that at least for math, one reason for student success is that students actually under place themselves which seems to defeat the purpose of "acceleration". And as for writing, I'm curious how the additional supports work: is tutoring or a lab required, or are they optional? Any Floridians who can weigh in?
You hit the nail on the head when you said that remedial education doesn't fit with how people learn. Colleges' first choice, which many groups are working on, should be to reform remedial content - teach students skills that they need in a way that connects to the real world. There is research on remedial math courses that shows (a) community college students remember contextualized and "connected" math way better than traditional algebraic equation-solving, and (b) that doing algebra alone doesn't help students do better in college-level math. (Full disclosure, this is my own research.) The more colleges can redefine "remedial" skills to be meaningful skills, the more students will learn and the better off they'll be in college-level classes.
There are a significant number of people who need the basic math, reading, and writing skills that college-level classes don't teach. This is especially true in math - a precalculus class isn't going to help you learn how to handle your finances. There are "avoidance" reforms like Florida's, and content-based reforms that make sure students are learning useful skills, which is why we're here in the first place.
Sadly, the result is that there are no data concerning the correlation between placement scores and performance in a variety of entry-level classes. Attempts to correct this, requiring placement testing but forbidding its use for placement of public HS grads, have failed.
Those considering going Full Florida in a state that has well-established graduation exams in public and charter schools should consider adopting this policy while still requiring placement exams for use in advising and research.