Community college students in Florida will soon be able to skip remediation and enroll directly in credit courses, even if college advisers or placement tests say they have remedial needs. Starting in spring 2014, community colleges will no longer require students to take developmental courses. Active duty members of the military will also be exempt.
The new bill passed by Governor Rick Scott has received mixed reviews and much controversy. Some professors and advisors argue that this will be a major setback for some students and will prolong their graduation. On the other side, a few professors and advisors think that this new bill is a great idea and students will have more flexibility and save tons of money.
Derrick Bullard, an Academic Advisor at St. Petersburg College, is against the new bill. “When a student enters the Advisor’s office and they’re told they must take preparatory courses, they automatically put on a sour face. So by making these courses optional, the majority will refuse to take them. As advisors, all we can do is keep encouraging the student to take prep courses so they don’t fail the ones that do count for college credits, but they will have the option to not take them and jump right into college level work.”
Mr. Bullard also says that majority of the students he advises are first-time college students and more than 75% of the time they will test into developmental courses. “I can only imagine the frustration the teachers must feel.” The older students who haven’t been in school for a while need prep courses to refresh their brain. If they choose to skip these courses, they will be setting themselves up for failure and end up spending more money to re-take certain courses.”
The teachers, who teach the regular college level courses such as Composition I and Intermediate Algebra, will also be affected by this new bill. Nicole McGough, who teaches Composition I and II, feels frustrated that this new bill has been passed. “I don’t want to have to stop in the middle of lesson for someone who is not up-to-speed with the material. In writing, if you don’t have the basic skills down, you’re not going to do well in the course.” Writing is such an important subject in college, if you need practice in it, you should be required to take the remedial course to become better. Many students look at remedial courses as being a bad thing, yet they fail to realize that the courses are prepping them for the next level.”
Not everyone feels that this bill is a bad move. Carol Wood, Developmental Math teacher, thinks that prep courses are a huge roadblock in a student’s college career. “So many students spend years in college preparatory courses. A lot of these students don’t need them, so in return they get bored and end up failing the course. Not because they don’t know the material but because their focus just isn’t there. After so many tries, students will give up and drop out of college. Not only is it wasting their time, but it is also costing them money. After a third attempt in a developmental course, a student will be charged out-of-state fees.”
Whether or not the new approach to remedial education works in Florida may well be determined by academic advising. The Academic Advisors will now have the job of encouraging students to take prep courses if they really need them. Students now have the advantage of skipping them, saving money and moving on in their college career. “It is important that we help our students as best as we can, and not set them up for failure,” as said best by Dr. William Law.