So says a front page, top of the fold article that ran in the Kentucky Enquirer’s print edition today.
The article talks about how Kentucky and Ohio compare to the rest of the nation, all of which report around 38 to 40 percent of the incoming college class need remediation in at least one college course area.
Sadly, these statistics are no surprise to us.
We’ve been tracking college remediation rates in Kentucky for years. The latest data from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) shows that in 2008 more than 38 percent of recent high school graduates from Kentucky’s schools needed non-credit remedial courses in at least one subject.
The article says more, and you can click the “Read more” link to see some thoughts about that.
The Enquirer mentions more recent information than the 2008 data, but I am concerned about those numbers.
For one thing, comparing college readiness across states is dicey because states determine the need for remediation in their public postsecondary education systems in different ways.
Also, the new Kentucky P20 Collaborative, which now releases the high school feedback reports (they used to come from the CPE), has changed the format from earlier years. The new reports don’t show statewide overall remedial rates by subject such as shown in the graph above. Also, the new reports are using 11th grade ACT test results. Because many students take the ACT again in the fall of their senior year and usually improve their scores, the P20 data may not accurately reflect who will need remediation.
In addition, the CPE changed its methodology for determining remediation after the 2008 data was assembled. Now, students must either achieve higher cut scores in certain ACT subjects or they must do an acceptable job on placement tests conducted by the colleges to avoid remedial courses. Thus, the newer P20 data may not correlate to the data shown in the graph above.
In any event, the major points in the news article are on target. Too many kids going on to college are not fully ready to do college level work. Many of those who enter remedial course classrooms don’t ever graduate from college.
The situation is particularly bad for students in two-year programs. A majority of the students need remediation, and very few that need it survive to get a diploma.
The article also hints at another problem. It mentions that kids who get A’s and B’s in high school often find themselves in remedial courses, anyway. That touches on a concern the article does not mention. Are our high schools socially promoting students all the way to a diploma to boost their high school graduation rates?
Grad rates are now an important part of annual high school accountability programs, so the pressure is on to boost those numbers. I don’t think we have enough data at this time to determine with confidence if social promotion is going on, but the continuing college remedial problems, which the news article says are growing across the country, do hint at the possibility that the requirements of a high school diploma are getting more watered down. That isn’t going to help kids when the shock of not being ready for college hits them square in the face.