Humboldt State University has developed an initial plan to prepare entering freshmen sooner for college math and English, fulfilling California State University’s Early Start initiative.

Early Start’s objective is a dramatic reduction in college-level remediation, and Humboldt State will build on previous success with an online math tutoring and testing program that customizes lessons according to each student’s performance.

Starting in 2012, HSU plans to make Early Start math available in two different formats for students with different needs, said Vice Provost Jena Burges. One will serve fall enrollees who live outside Humboldt State’s immediate area. The other will be for both HSU and non-HSU prospective students who are close enough to commute to the Arcata campus for a week.

This two-pronged approach is designed to assure access to those living some distance from Humboldt State’s geographically remote location.

This fall, HSU will pilot the development of learning communities for students needing remediation in both math and English as part of its Graduation Rate Improvement Program; Early Start activities will be coordinated with that related initiative.

At the same time, Burges said, the university is developing a “stretch” freshman composition program for Fall 2012 that would expand academic writing curriculum across more than one semester. “The longer sequence is designed specifically to give students who need it the time and experience they should have to develop strong college-level writing skills,” Burges said.

The CSU is combining Early Start with an Early Assessment Program test. Both are aimed at starting remediation before incoming freshmen start their first term.

"Numerous studies have shown that the sooner students can be brought up to proficiency levels, the better the chances for their ultimate success," said Ephraim Smith, the CSU’s executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.

Approximately half of CSU’s regularly admitted freshmen are not proficient in either math or English or both, and are required to take developmental courses during their initial year of college. CSU estimates it spends $30 million annually on remediation, which often results in students falling behind their classmates as they attempt to complete degree requirements.

Under Early Start, beginning in summer 2012, students who are not proficient in math or are "at risk" in English will be required to demonstrate they have started remediation before enrolling at a CSU campus. However, there will be ample alternatives, including additional math or writing classes during the senior year of high school, taking an online refresher courses or attending remedial classes at a local community college.

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