SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The California State University is making a major change in how it handles incoming freshmen that need remedial course work in math and English.
The CSU wants to improve four-year graduation rates for incoming freshmen system-wide which is currently less than 20 percent.
CSU Chancellor Timothy White has issued an executive order that will do away with math and English placement tests in addition to mandatory remedial course for incoming freshmen starting in Fall 2018.
Currently nearly 40 percent of all incoming first-year students in the CSU take remedial math and English courses with no credit toward a degree.
The new policy will rely on high school grades, ACT and SAT scores and other classroom performance to determine readiness.
First-year students who end up taking remedial math or English with get credit for their work.
Supporters of the change say current remedial courses sidetrack students pursuit of a degree forcing them to stay on campus longer than needed.
"It was not uncommon for students to have one whole year that was not just in those non-credit bearing courses and those are high-stakes courses", says Ed Mills, Sacramento State Vice-President of Student Affairs, "students knew if they didn't pass those courses in the first year they may not be able to continue at the university so they would spend a lot of time on those courses and sometimes not spend as much time on their other courses that were credit bearing and end up with a low GPA or on probation."
Critics of the remediation change say it diminishes the quality of education CSU students receive and fails to adequately prepare them for the remainder of their course work on the same level as their peers.
"We're the largest university system in the country and we want to be leading edge", Ed Mills says, "we want to make sure more of our students have the support they need and learn what they need to graduate and graduate in a timely way."
The changes are expected to have greater impact on more urban CSU campuses like Cal State-Dominguez Hills and Cal State-Los Angeles which have a greater number of first-year students taking remedial math and English than other campuses like Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and Cal State-Channel Islands.