Throughout the Great Recession, laid-off workers have been trying to improve their re-employment prospects with college training.
But, once they enroll at their local community colleges, many are finding that that their math, reading and writing skills have atrophied so much they can't continue at the college level without remedial classes.
Wendy Pedroso has never liked math, but for most of elementary school and middle school she got B’s in the subject. It wasn’t until ninth grade at Miami Southwest Senior High School, when Pedroso took algebra, that she hit a wall. In particular, she struggled with understanding fractions.
“I kept getting stuck in the same place,” Pedroso, 20, recalled recently. She failed the class, and worried that she’d never get to go to college. Pedroso sought help from tutors, took algebra again over the summer and passed. She went on to graduate from high school in 2011.
English teacher Vallet Tucker teaches 10th grade honors students. She says she's not surprised that more than half the students who took Florida's college placement exam in the 2010-2011 school year failed at least one subject.