Essential Pittsburgh
5:13 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

College Students Still Struggling with Math and Writing

Studies show freshmen are still struggling with math and writing skills upon entering college.
Studies show freshmen are still struggling with math and writing skills upon entering college.
Credit Scott Akerman / Flickr

A great deal of concern is given to young children being ready to learn once they begin attending elementary school. But what happens when those children grow up and are ready to attend college?

A study by the U.S. Department of Education finds one in four college freshmen lack reading and math skills for entry level-college work. This results in students needing to take at least one noncredit remedial class.

California University of Pennsylvania is working to reduce the amount of remedial help needed by students. Daniel Engstrom, associate provost in the Office of Academic Success at California University of Pennsylvania explains why more and more students are coming into college unprepared.

“Some of the things we’re testing students on are skills they’ve learned in 8th, 9th, and 10th grade. So, what we try to do is we try to help them academically to say, ‘You know what? You may not be ready for this, but let’s go back and let’s have you come into the math lab in our office of Academic Success, let’s get you some of the tutoring, some of the remedial work, just the basic skills that you need to prepare you so you can take the placement test and be successful with that so you can go write into the math class you need.”

“We’ve also found that all districts aren’t created equal. What students take in one district may not be equal to what they take in another school district, so we try to come in and level the playing field.”

Engstrom says there are things that need to be done to help reduce the amount of remedial help needed. He thinks things need to be done at a high school level for these incoming freshman. Engstrom says students coming into college need to have a better grasp of the math content they need, as courses such as calculus are different between high school and college levels.

Some states are completely eliminating these remedial classes, but are providing tutoring and other means for students to side-step these classes. Engstrom, a former student requiring a remedial writing class, does not believe all universities in Pennsylvania will follow suit.

“If they had done that while I was in college I probably wouldn’t be sitting here now.”