A better approach to math remediation?

Remedial education is the great conundrum of higher education. Lot of students need it—but the time and effort required is both daunting and discouraging. Eager to earn a degree, students placed in remedial math and reading courses instead find themselves on the proverbial slow boat to China.

According David Kirp, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, a number of colleges and university systems, including the City University of New York, are experimenting with a new approach to remediation that accelerates learning without sacrificing rigor.

Writing in the New York Times, Kirp said the CUNY program places full-time students in need of remediation in a semester-long program that focuses exclusively on skill building. Significantly, students in the CUNY Start program are provided 25 hours of instruction each week, which, he noted, is “substantially more than the usual course load.”

“The strategy is working,” Kirp argued. “More than half the students who complete the program are ready for college in just one semester, something that’s almost impossible with regular remedial courses.” Indeed, nationwide, only one-third of students placed in remedial math courses complete their studies with a passing grade.

For more about the CUNY Start program, see:


An evaluation of similar “ASAP” remediation programs by the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation can be found here:


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