Math and English Standards May Change

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Proposals, introduced at a fall 2002 meeting of the California Academic Senate, would make it mandatory for community college students graduating and not transferring to take transfer level math and English courses.

According to GCC counselor Troy Davis, Math 101 and English 120 meet the requirements to graduate from GCC. To transfer, a student must pass Math 100 and English 101 (freshman English).

Students will have to take one extra course and perhaps remain at their respective college for an additional year, said Davis, who does not understand why students should be subjected to another year of school if their immediate goal is not to transfer.

According to GCC Academic Senate President and history professor Dr. Peggy Renner, at a meeting of the California Academic Senate May 1-3, many agreed with this proposal, saying that if colleges take away the college standard, that is, allow students to graduate without taking college-level courses.

Essentially “you cheapen the degree – you make it worth less. And that doesn’t help out students when they go out into the work world,” said Renner.

Renner said the proposals stemmed from the idea that since colleges are giving out “college” degrees, courses students take must also be college level.

“We have degrees that set that standard,” said Renner. “But what we also have is an A.A. degree that doesn’t set that standard that has a lower-level English class.

This [proposal] would say that’s not a college-level class. You need to go all the way through a college-level class. You need a higher standard.”

On the other side of the argument, people questioned why students should take college-level English and math courses for vocations that do not necessarily hire graduates based on their completion of higher-level English and math.

“What’s the comparison to getting a job?” asked Davis, citing that there is no real comparison yet on the increased and decreased potential of a student who completes a higher course in English and math over a student who does not. “Is it the same? Is there any change at all?”

“Well, who’s right?” asked Renner. Budget issues also come into play when you factor in the extra classes that must be made available for students who only wish to graduate, said Renner.

“Given the place we are now, it may be very hard to find more money to make more classes.”

“I think it’s uncalled for at this point,” said Davis. “I don’t think that it should be raised up at all. What we have in place is good enough for students that are planning on getting an A.A. [associate of arts] or A.S. [associate of science] degree that are not transferring to a university.”

Davis said the national average to graduate from a two-year college stands at roughly three-years.

Davis attributes this to additional courses that have been added to the general education curriculum, such as math and English, since about 1980. He fears that with the new requirements, it may increase to four years.
“The question is whether students are slowed down because they limit what they take or they are slowed down because they can’t get more of what they want,” said Renner.

“I don’t think we have yet analyzed the data to tell us which one of those is true.”

Renner says there has been no decision on whether to increase the requirements, much less study the impact it will have on students and their time spent studying at a community college.

Renner cast one vote to resolve to further study the issue at the May meeting.

“This has just been people talking,” said Davis. “This has been an idea that has been brought up before. I’d like to give students options.”
“I don’t think that there should be one mandatory switch all of a sudden, but that we give students the chance of what degree type they want.”
Renner said that talks would continue on this issue involving counselors, instructors and students.