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Holding High Schools Accountable for Students Who Aren’t Ready for College?

I read an interesting article in the Huffington Post about two states that are considering legislation to make schools pay for graduating those who are not ready and have to take remedial classes in community college. “Lawmakers in Mississippi will likely vote on two bills this winter that would require public school districts to front the costs if their graduates require remedial courses in the state’s community colleges.Undergraduates are placed in the lower-level courses to improve their skills in subjects like reading, writing, and math, after they are deemed unprepared for college level classes.

This is a hotly debated issue and paints a grim picture of the outcome of students who are continually promoted to the next grade and ultimately graduate but are still not college ready. They quoted this statistic, “Nationwide, about fifty percent of undergraduates and as many as 70 percent of those entering community colleges are placed in remedial courses.”

I was only recently made aware of this problem.  I attended a one day workshop at a college in Massachusetts and this subject came up. The admissions officer leading the program described what it was like when he worked at a community college. He said that students take placement tests and then if they must take a remedial class, they have to re-take the test. If they passed the class but still didn’t achieve the desired score, they would remain in remedial classes.  “Paying for college but not getting college credit” is how he described it.

While there are no simple answers, I can understand the frustration of colleges that accept students and then find they are not ready for college as well as the student who finds that he is in college but not ready. Promoting high school students who have not mastered the coursework doesn’t help anyone.

Janet Rosier