California State University will now require anyone who is unprepared to take remedial classes before they start college. According to an article by Lisa Krieger in the San Jose Mercury News:

The California State University approved a controversial policy on Wednesday that requires academically needy students to take remedial math and English coursework before they start their freshman year.

The new “Early Start” policy, which will start in 2012, demands that students who fail proficiency tests take CSU-sponsored courses their senior year in high school online or in summer school, before the start of the college freshman year.

At first glance this policy appears to make some degree of sense. Currently most students who take remedial courses in college have a very hard time passing regular courses and never end up graduating. So maybe if they take the remedial courses before they get to college, they’ll be prepared once they get there for four years of academic success.

Except that it probably won’t work. According to the article, it doesn’t look like other efforts like Early Start have worked, anywhere:

“Even with the best of intentions, Early Start has been denounced by almost everyone I know,” said San Jose State University professor Stefan Frazier, who coordinates the university’s remedial English programs. “It is ineffectual. And it will cost more for students — most Cal State students spend their summers working and making money, so they can attend school in the fall. It will put a huge dent in their paycheck.”

In addition, Cal State isn’t an open-admission system. If the students aren’t prepared to do college-level work, why is Cal State letting them in at all?

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer