Starting in summer 2019, newly admitted students will not be expected to pass non-credit remedial courses before beginning their general education coursework, as part of a California State University (CSU)-wide policy change.

Dustin Johnson (right), reading advisor, and Laura Ayon, director of the Reading, Advising and Mentoring Program (RAMP), provide Early Start Bronco Scholars an overview of their program services and share helpful reading strategies. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Naranjo)

CSU Executive Order 1110 improves the current Early Start Programs by abolishing the non-credit remedial course requirements and placement exams, known as the Entry-Level Mathematics Test (ELM) and English Placement Test (EPT). 

The revised policy requires that students receive credit for any support classes taken and offers students the chance to earn credit in the summer before their first term at a CSU by taking credit-bearing courses in math or English. 

Although previous remedial courses were intended to help students succeed in general education courses, recent studies prove the preparation requirement delays students’ progress towards graduation and ultimately discourages them from pursuing a degree.

According to the executive order issued by CSU Chancellor Timothy White, approximately 25,000 students each fall are admitted to a CSU but are told they are not ready to enroll in college-level coursework, and only 10 percent of those students actually graduate in four years. 

Before Executive Order 1110, students were given one year to fulfill their remedial course requirements. If unable to pass the necessary courses within their first year, they were removed from the school and encouraged to complete the requirement at a community college, where they could transfer back to the CSU after successful completion. This process was not only discouraging, but also wasted students’ money by requiring them to pay tuition for courses which did not offer college credit.

Dora Lee, director of academic support and learning services, explained the setback non-credit remedial courses put onto Cal Poly Pomona students. “Remediation is not working. We’re losing students. Students who are told to do their math at another institution rarely come back,” she said.

However, Lee said she is hopeful the improved Early Start Program will help aid student learning instead of negatively impacting their college experience.

“The new model is better because students coming in are not being told they’re not ready for college,” Lee said. “We don’t want to function with a deficit mindset. Students come in with a lot of attributes and qualities, and they’re ready [for college]; they got accepted to Cal Poly Pomona and our job is to make sure they succeed.”

Conor Kurosaki, a third-year accounting student, said he thinks the change will be beneficial for incoming students, but wishes he didn’t have to partake in a non-credit remedial course his freshman year in 2016. 

“I would probably be further ahead than I am now; I would’ve been able to start my accounting classes during the last quarter of my freshman year compared to the first quarter of my second year,” Kurosaki said. “It was also kind of a waste of money, since I was paying regular tuition for a class that I wasn’t getting any credit for.”

Under Executive Order 1110, students’ college-level readiness will be determined by other measures, such as their high school grade point averages, any completed coursework and their standardized assessment scores, like Advanced Placement (AP), the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Testing Program (ACT).  

Freshmen who are placed in the Early Start Program will be allowed to register directly for general education courses, in comparison to prior years, where students were expected to complete the Early Start Program before enrolling in credit courses. CPP’s Early Start Program plans to offer credit-bearing summer programs and co-requisite stretch classes to help students succeed in their general education courses, as well as provide additional support workshops throughout the year. The credits in support classes may be used towards elective units. 

Alexis Jara, Early Start Bronco Scholar student assistant, shares with Early Start Bronco Scholar students the various resources available at the Learning Resource Center (LRC) and how they can access them. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Naranjo)

For newly admitted and incoming CPP students, the Early Start program will host an information session next month on April 27. 

The session will address registration and it will include an overview of the summer program and an in-depth understanding of student placement in entry-level courses. More details can be found on the CPP Early Start website.

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