TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) - Getting into Pima Community College (PCC) is getting a little tougher.
The PCC Board of Governors has endorsed the plan that puts an end to open enrollment.
The school will require new students to pass a test that shows they are at least at a seventh grade level in reading, writing and math.
This is a decision that had strong opposition from some members of the community, but that PCC leaders say is needed.
In addition to passing the test, a student must have high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED).
At the governing board meeting Wednesday night, many speakers asked the board members to at least delay the decision, but the board voted, four to one, to approve the changes.
Students who fail a portion or all of the placement test can be offered a program called Pathways to Pima.
They would be able to take a non-credit, 10-week course to help them catch up.
Dr. Suzanne Miles is PCC Provost/Executive Vice Chancellor for the College and President of the Community Campus.
She says, "So we're not saying, no, to these students. But we're saying, you need more preparation and with that preparation, then you can take the assessments again. Ideally, you assess above seventh grade and you can go into the credit courses, and you should have a better chance of being successful."
The Pathways to Pima course costs $33 and may include more than one subject.
Because it is a non-credit course, federal financial aid is not available for it
Miles says PCC is not changing its entire developmental education program, also known as remedial education program.
She says only the very lowest level courses for students assessing below seventh grade are being switched to non-credit status.
She says students who are at the lowest level, below seventh grade level, in reading, writing and math were not doing well.
She calls the numbers "horrific."
Miles says this is a national problem.
She says "The developmental education students of today are much much different and less prepared than the students of even five years ago."
Miles says 19 out of 20 PCC students in the lowest level remedial courses are not succeeding.
"What's happening with these 19 out of 20 students is they're leaving. They're silently leaving. And so what we're saying is, heads up. Don't go. We have another option for you so you can be prepared, so you can feel comfortable in the classroom with all these other students," Miles says.
She says PCC has tried many ways to try to help these students, but nothing has worked so far.
She says Pathways to Pima courses will be tailored to a student's individual needs.
"Let's say, for example, there's a deficiency in understanding fractions. So, rather than putting the student in a full class in math, we just work on the student's deficiency. So, I'm going to work with the student with fractions and once he or she gets up to speed, then they can take the assessment , and again go into the credit classes," Miles says.
While a student is catching up there, Miles says the student still may enroll in PCC in other college level courses for credit, such as reading and writing if the student passed those parts of the placement test.
Dr. Miles says PCC will track the progress of students who take the Pathways to Pima courses to see how they do.
The changes kick in next summer.
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