CUNY Phases Out Remedial Education

Published December 1, 1998

“Twelfth grade is a cotillion or debutante ball, a coming-out party for an inferior product, the result of 12 years of ruinous instruction, flawed governance, disengaged parents and communities, lack of competition and stagnant ideas. But this certifiably underperforming product is a human being, not a thing. The real sin is that the system only connects its failures to a real face when it is too late to do anything about it.” Rev. Floyd H. Flake

Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY) voted for a three-year phase-out of remedial education at its 11 four-year colleges, requiring students to pass a placement test as a condition of enrollment.

Last fall, 63 percent of all new freshmen at the senior CUNY colleges failed one or more placement tests; 14 percent failed all three.

The situation is even worse at CUNY’s six community colleges, where 86 percent of last fall’s freshmen failed at least one placement test and 37 percent failed all three. One-third of the community colleges’ 65,000 students take at least one remedial class, with remedial classes representing 14 percent of all classes.

“College should be for college work, not high school work,” CUNY board vice-president Herman Badillo told The New York Times. “Otherwise, we just devalue a college degree.”