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Remedial classes to be dropped

December 17, 2001

The Tennessee Board of Regents voted last Friday to drop remedial classes from its four-year universities within the next five years. The proposal to drop the classes was part of a plan assembled by the TBR in response to a request from the Tennessee legislature to find ways to cut costs. The plan will be presented to the General Assembly this month.

Remedial classes fall under the larger heading of developmental studies, a program in place at Austin Peay since 1985. Remedial classes are designed to improve the skills of entering freshmen who, for whatever reason, are functioning on a seven- to ninth-grade level in basics like reading, writing and math.

The program also includes developmental courses-math, algebra, writing-for students whose skills are higher than ninth-grade but not quite up to college level. Developmental courses are often critical for students who graduated from high school years earlier and need to brush-up on their vocabulary, math and study skills.

Loss of the remedial program will affect about 150 students, leaving them with no option except higher-level developmental courses. The larger effect of the cut is difficult to predict, however, as fully 50 percent of Austin Peay freshmen need at least one remedial or developmental course. Class size in developmental studies is limited to 25 students.

"Students are concerned that the courses won't be available. Then they can't do core," says Dr. Aleeta Christian, director of developmental studies.

Christian is also concerned about the effect of the decision on class size. The larger the class, the fewer the opportunities for faculty/student interaction.

"Student interaction with faculty is so important," Christian says. "It affects retention. Studies show that students stay in school when they have contact with faculty."

Though there has been no discussion of job losses in the program, the decision has the potential to affect not only the 13 full-time faculty members in the department but a large number of adjuncts, a lab manager and several paraprofessionals who work with math students on both the main and Fort Campbell campuses.

Christian says that although the decision has significant long-term effects, short-term, little will change. "We're still here, teaching, meeting with students, making a big impact on their lives," she says. And the importance of that, she says, "just can't be measured."