Community Colleges Creating Pathways for Underprepared Students

Teaching high school math during the day, and two evenings a week helping community college students grasp arithmetic they should have mastered years ago, LaTonya Davis has some insight into the root causes of her older students’ deficiencies.

“Over the twelve years that I’ve been doing this, the performance of my junior college students has gotten worse,” Davis says.

Many of her “developmental math” students in community college balk at the three hours of homework she gives them weekly, Davis says.

“They think that they shouldn’t have to do homework because homework is not in their background,” she says. “If students aren’t doing homework assignments in math, science and English — that’s their foundation academically — the teachers who are teaching them should be fired.”

With that, Davis, a remedial math instructor at Tarrant County College, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, was just beginning her critique of why a disproportionate share of students land on campus unequipped to tackle course work that yields a professional certificate or two-year associate degree.

That’s a by-product of having attended secondary schools where homework wasn’t mandated and of living with parents who didn’t challenge that failing, says Davis. High schools — and junior high and elementary schools, for that matter — are supposed to prep college-bound students for the rigors of higher education, Davis continued. Instead, she said, too many K-12 schools are focused on ensuring that students pass standardized tests — because education funding is partly tied to test scores — but not on whether students actually understand the processes involved in reaching a correct answer. <Read more.>

Via Katti Gray, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.