More on “Finding the Right Reason for KCTCS Enrollment Drop”

I blogged on this year’s drop in enrollment in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System last Wednesday, pointing out that some very good reasons other than funding might explain the drop.

Two days after my blog, Mark Hebert caught up with the news about the enrollment drop with an article that merely postulated the drop in enrollment was all due to state funding below what was asked coupled with a refusal to approve a large tuition hike. No alternate explanations were discussed.

Today, the Herald-Leader joined the discussion, disputing the KCTCS claim that the problems are all due to inadequate funding. But, this article primarily focuses on funding. Again, alternative possibilities are not discussed.

The KCTCS, Mr. Hebert and even the Herald-Leader all make an assumption – that students coming from Kentucky’s P to 12 school system are adequately prepared to succeed in postsecondary education. That’s a very incorrect assumption.

Only a small minority of Kentucky’s students score well enough on the ACT to meet the benchmark scores that signal adequate preparation for follow-on schooling after high school. Among the 2008 graduates in Kentucky who took the ACT and might have gone on to postsecondary education, only 19 percent met the benchmark scores in all four academic areas tested. Virtually all of that limited number would go to four-year universities.

Thus, ACT scores for virtually all the potential community college applicants indicated these students could expect some pretty tough challenges in any postsecondary school.

In fact, because Kentucky now determines college remedial course requirements based on ACT scores, these students actually knew before high school graduation that they would need to take remedial courses to have any chance of completing a postsecondary education.

Given the facts that more kids are getting better information about their real readiness for college, it may just be that the drop in KCTCS enrollment is due to more kids realizing that they didn’t get an adequate preparation in the P to 12 school system and that they will face the extra expense of remedial courses in order to succeed, even in two-year colleges. Maybe more of these kids are simply making a more informed decision not to load up a lot of debt in what at best might be a gamble at getting a postsecondary diploma or degree.

It’s an alternate possibility that all Kentuckians need to discuss, because with our rapidly more technical society, the drop in postsecondary enrollment is not a good thing for anyone in this state.