Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

June 11, 2013

Editorial: Solid start a big step to a degree

So 10 years after your high school graduation you’ve decided to go to college, get some additional training and maybe an associate’s degree, all to get a better job.

But first you take a placement test and find out that in order to get that associate’s degree you have to pass a college-level algebra class; before you can even take that class, however, you have to take a remedial “pre-algebra” class - the most fundamental remedial class Northwestern Michigan College offers.

So there you are, burning up Pell Grant money, time and effort on a remedial class that will only get you to the next step toward taking an actual college-level algebra class.

And what you don’t know is that just 4 percent of students who start at the pre-algebra remedial level eventually pass college-level algebra. Long odds, indeed.

Statistics show that where a student starts in his or her effort to get a degree matters - a lot. The further behind - at the pre-algebra level, for example - the less likely he or she is to graduate.

That’s all old news at NMC. For more than 40 years the college has been working to help individuals make it. Now, there’s a long list of programs aimed at helping students succeed. They include:

n A new 15-hour math “boot camp” that helps students place higher on math placement tests.

n A computer program called PLATO that helps prepare students for placement tests and supports course work.

n New math software that helps pace material to what students can handle.

n Developmental math classes as an option to standard courses and English composition. They offer two hours of supplemental instruction time each week.

n A program to screen students for visual and hearing problems.

n Keeping class sizes small for developmental math and English.

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