Co-Requisite Course Model
Co-Requisite Courses: It sounds like a very strange idea. Instead of offering remedial courses to entering college freshmen with low test scores on entrance and/or placement tests, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) says it will be creating new "accelerated" but credit-bearing courses for such students.
Somehow, the CPE says it can take students who are behind and magically accelerate them to finish their freshman year on an equal playing field with better prepared students.
To be sure, this idea has generated enormous controversy within the mathematics departments at virtually every one of Kentucky's four-year postsecondary institutions. A May 28, 2015 letter signed by the chairs of the math departments at every one of these universities except Kentucky State University, and by several two-year school math heads, as well, speaks for itself. A few quotes from the letter indicate the serious implications of the Co-Requisite Course proposal:
"There has been no general invitation by the CPE for input on the Guiding Principles from Kentucky communities of mathematicians and mathematics educators."
"Placing these students into courses for which they have not met prerequisites can only lead to either lower educational standards or increased failure rates."
"This will result in lower standards for college students than currently exist for high school students."
"In particular,basic skills in elementary algebra have effectively been discarded"
"Adoption of the default placement model described in the Guiding Principles would indicate to the K-12 community that the postsecondary system no longer adheres to even these minimal standards for college readiness, let alone the more rigorous standards of the KCAS." (Note: KCAS refers to the current K to 12 math standards document known as the Kentucky Core Content Standards, which is entirely based on the Common Core State Standards)
It has been reported that the short, September 30, 2015 response letter from the president of the CPE, which is found at the end of the math chairs' letter, has generated even more ire within those math departments.
A far more detailed dissention from Kentucky math professor Steve Newman is also now released.
Newman's introduction says a lot about the ill-advised Co-Requisite plan:
"The Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) is finalizing a plan to solve the college remediation problem by eliminating remedial courses and imposing a one‐size‐fits‐all model based on the assumption that all high school graduates are prepared for college level work. This assumption is clearly false, and will result in lower academic standards and expectations for incoming college students. Indeed, it is difficult to see how these standards and expectations could be set any lower."
Clearly, there is something of a revolt under way in Kentucky regarding the attempt to destroy remedial courses in the state's college system. Professors in the math trenches obviously don't think this is going to work.
It is worth noting that such reduction of college rigor was predicted by critics of the Common Core State Standards. Indeed, it seems like there is a recognition of a reduced quality product coming from the high schools behind the CPE's rather obvious attempt to dumb down its entry level college credit bearing courses. That might fill seats at the university, but it doesn't offer hope of a real increase in well-qualified college graduates coming out the other end of the process.