As dropout statistics force colleges to rethink remedial classes, instructors and policymakers have convinced schools in California to take a different approach, with promising early results.

Soft SkillsThe system of remedial education in California colleges is entrenched and costly.  Approximately three out of every four students are forced to enroll in remedial classes.

New fast-tracked courses are being created, or colleges are changing placement rules to keep students from being stuck in basic skills classes that do not earn college credit.  “It’s this massive weeding mechanism,” said Katie Hern, an English instructor at Hayward’s Chabot College and co-founder of California Acceleration Project. “The loss of student potential in these sequences is just devastating.”

Only six out of every 100 students in California who are placed in a math course three or more levels below college level will earn any college math credits within three years.  Many students give up.

“If they don’t have to start in a class that’s beneath their ability,” said Michelle Gonzales, an English instructor at Las Positas College, “they won’t a) be discouraged, b) totally bored or c) out of money.”

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