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KCBS Cover Story: Cyber High Not Preparing Some Students For College

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The campus of California State University, East Bay in Hayward. (CSU)

The campus of California State University, East Bay in Hayward. (CSU)

DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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Part 3 of Doug Sovern’s KCBS Cover Story series on online high school classes. | Part 1 | Part 2

HAYWARD (KCBS) – California high schools are graduating students in record numbers, thanks in part to the growing use of online education in the classroom, which helps students earn their diplomas even if they’ve failed courses they need to graduate.

But many of these Cyber High classes are sending students on to college, when they aren’t really ready to be there.

At Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Sally Murphy, Senior Director of Undergraduate Studies, said she finds the high school diplomas don’t mean very much, as 65 percent of CSU freshmen can’t read, write or do math at a college level and need remedial course work.

“They’ve graduated in the top one-third of their class, they’ve got a B or better average, they’re the CSU population,” said Murphy. “And yet, having met all those requirements, they still need up to a year’s work, some students more, to get through their math and English.”

Sophomore Connie Arteaga used the Cyber High program to pass English in high school after she failed it. She also struggled through, but passed, Algebra 1 and 2.

“It was pretty bad. You’re at a computer with a teacher who really doesn’t care what you do and you have access to the Internet on your lap top,” she said. “I don’t know what the people were thinking trusting high school kids with free access to the Internet on lap tops when they’re supposed to be doing their work.”

When Arteaga got to Cal State East Bay, she tested two levels below college math and had to spend her freshmen year taking remedial Pre-Algebra.

“Personally I feel that the public education system failed me in high school and I know a lot of other students feel the same way,” Arteaga said. “I think high schools just want to get you out of the way. They don’t want the low graduation rates, so the teachers will pass you and they send students out unprepared here in the real world.”

Freshman Myami Woods got an A in high school Pre-Calculus and was astounded when she got to Cal State East Bay and had to take remedial Algebra and Geometry.

“Most of my classmates, they had remedial math and English. You’re taking these classes that don’t even give you credit,” said Woods. “You’re kind of behind.”

Murphy said that’s the worst part, as the remedial classes don’t carry college credit. So cutting corners to graduate high school on time can actually sabotage a student’s college career before it even starts.

“It slows down graduation so much and discourages students,” said Murphy. “They don’t see the progress and I think it leads to students just getting discouraged and leaving school.”

The administrators of Cyber High insist it’s a legitimate and valuable tool and educators say there are ways to make it better.

Part 4 of Doug Sovern’s KCBS Cover Story Series on online high school classes will look at ways to improve the Cyber High experience for both students and colleges – airing March 4 – 7, 2013 at 6:20 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 12:20 p.m., 4:20 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. on 740 AM & 106.9 FM.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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