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The Learning Development Program Should be Retained

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The Learning Development Program Should be Retained

The local community college cancelled the Learning Development

Program (L.D.C.) in the summer of 1999. This program was designed to

assess and implement learning deficiencies in potential new students.

The academic subjects covered were General Math, English and Reading.

It had been determined in the late 1980s that a large number of incoming

students were inadequately prepared in these subject areas, and were not

able to enroll in the lowest level courses. Assessment test scores

confirmed this observation. As a consequence, the college began a

program graded on a pass-fail basis, designed to bring these students

up to speed. The cancellation of this program should be reviewed, and

some instructional alternative must be offered in its place.

At this time, students are either rejected for admission, or admitted

and then fail their English and math classes. The case for removing

the L.D.C. classes rests on two issues: a lack of student interest and

a lack of classroom space. Enrollment began to drop after 1997, when

a new alignment of supervisory personnel occurred. Students were not

made aware of the potential benefits to themselves, and were not

prepared for the rigors of college-level work in such areas as English

and math. The administration maintained that adequate alternatives

were being offered. Further, it was argued that the economic factor

of providing for instructors and instructional materials for the small

numbers of students enrolled in L.D.C. classes did not make sense.

One alternative available for failing students involves tutoring

programs for English and math. These are "drop in" labs where those

students struggling in the subject areas can come and receive help

from a qualified faculty member. For many this service is all that

is required. Yet, other students cannot succeed in the "drop in"

labs, which often are noisy, and where individual attention is limited.

The college can then request a special tutor. This would involve

one-on-one instruction. The cost factor here, touted by the

administration as of the utmost importance, spirals upward. It is

difficult to understand this kind of budgeting, where another program

containing indeterminate costs supplants one program that was successful

in the past.

The second issue concerns a lack of classroom space. A multi-use

classroom was designated as the Academic Support Center in 1995-1997.
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