North Carolina’s community colleges used to force 69 percent of all recent high-school graduates entering academic programs to take remedial courses. This was very costly to the state, and the failure by remedial students to complete either their remedial classes and or the subsequent entry-level non-remedial math and English classes greatly reduced enrollment in academic classes. Perhaps more important, the poor performance of high-school graduates on the exams used to determine a need for remediation was making the powerful K–12 school system look bad. What the state’s educational establishment needed was a way to have fewer students take remedial classes without all that messy stuff needed to improve their skills.
The solution? Lower the hurdles! Instead of testing the math and English skills of all students who enter community colleges, students who had at least a 2.6 GPA in high school won’t have to be tested. This way, fewer students will be forced into remedial programs, and the K–12 establishment will have that embarrassing statistical stain removed from the public eye. Of course, this ignores the fact that at many high schools today, you can be almost functionally illiterate and get a 2.6 average. And that fact that students who really need remediation will not be getting it.