College professors start with the basics in remedial math classes. Add, subtract. Multiply, divide. Later they get into pre-Algebra.
Students end up in remedial classes, like the one at Miami Dade College when they fail the college placement test. It's required for students who enroll in state or community colleges - not state universities.
In 2011, nearly 50% of the high school graduates who took the math test failed. Compare that to less than 33% who failed reading and writing. And failing the math test doesn't just mean you're not ready for college-level math.