Many community colleges and four-year colleges in the US offer remedial reading and writing classes to incoming freshmen to raise lagging students to the base level expected for beginning freshmen. These remedial courses offer no credit, so by the end of freshman year, students who pass these classes will not have accumulated the 30 or so credit hours expected for the first year of college education. These students’ chances of graduating in two years from community colleges and four years from traditional colleges and universities are almost impossible. And this means that many poor readers and writers drop out and never earn a college degree.
Colleges and universities are rethinking their remedial English courses for many reasons.
- These remedial courses, in both English and math, cost about $7 billion each year.
- Few freshmen who require remedial courses ever earn a degree.
- 96% of two- and four-year colleges and universities enroll students in remedial courses.
- In one state, California, more than 70% of community college students qualify for remedial English courses, and of those, only 60% pass the remedial courses and start credit courses, according to a 2016 study by the Public Policy Institute of California. Of those 60% who do pass, most never finish a college level English course with a C grade or better. California is pretty typical of the rest of the country.
- Starting in the fall of 2018, all such remedial courses will be eliminated at California State University, the largest public university system in the US. The stated purpose is to enable more students to graduate in four years.
What does this mean if you are teaching a young child to read?
Reading and writing are two of the most make-it or break-it life skills. If a little kid is having trouble, now is the time to intervene. The longer a student flounders, the more he falls behind and the less likely he is to catch up, even with help. By the time a student reaches college, high school, or even middle school, it’s usually too late. The time to learn to read and write is when a child is four, five, six and seven years old.
If you want your children to succeed, do whatever is necessary to ensure that they can read by the time they start third grade.