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An Easy Fix to College Readiness

September 4, 2012

Not to beat a dead horse or sound like a broken record… but there IS an easy way to fix the problem of the rising number of students who require remediation in colleges as reported most recently in the Fall ASCD Policy Priorities, an excerpt from an essay that I incorporated in my RTTT-D proposal:

There is no need for any state to spend any money developing standards or assessments to measure “college readiness”. Those standards and assessments already exist. Upon acceptance to public universities and community colleges, many if not all students are required to take placement tests to determine if they need to take remedial courses. Instead of taking these placement tests when they enroll in a post-secondary school at the end of their high school years, all high school students should be required to take them in the first half of their sophomore year. If a student passes the placement test, they would be eligible for dual-enrollment in college courses during their junior and senior years in high school. If the student does not pass the placement test, they would have two years to schedule courses to prepare them to meet the “college readiness” standard defined by the tests. A high school’s “college readiness” metric would be the percentage of its students who enroll in post secondary schools without requiring remedial coursework, a far more effective metric than those used today: SAT scores, AP enrollment figures, or performance on State standardized achievement tests.

Why hasn’t this idea, that I first proposed in the early 1990s NOT caught on?

  • It smacks of the European model that tracks students… even though it empowers the STUDENT to decide whether they wish to pursue higher education after they graduate
  • It places too much emphasis on a single test… even though it is the SAME test that determines how many years a student will spend in college when it is give AFTER they are accepted
  • It reduces the amount of money colleges can earn from enrolling students in remedial courses and charging them full tuition… though I BELIEVE this is not the cash cow it once was…
  • It reduces the revenue colleges can receive from dual enrolled students whose “tuition” is absorbed into the public school budget

The ultimate reason is that it is different from our existing conception of schooling which the public implicitly believes is designed to sort kids over the course of twelve years into “winners” and “losers” with no feedback on how they are doing as they approach the end….

 

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