August 28, 2007

A Too Low College Entrance Bar

“Thousands of Arkansas college students are taking noncredit math, reading and English courses this fall. Called various names — remedial, developmental or transitional — the courses are designed to close the gap between what students learned in high school and what they need to know for college.

The latest figures from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education show 52. 6 percent, or 9, 913 students, took at least one remedial class in fall 2006 because of their low college entrance exam scores,” reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

The article goes on to say, “Education officials in higher education and kindergarten through 12 th-grade systems said they must work together for a solution. ‘This issue is so complex, you can’t have one group blaming another group,’ said Karen Hodges, director of remediation and special retention activities at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville ‘That’s not going to get us anywhere.’”

And yet, higher ed implicitly blames K-12 for the remedial problems of these students. Here’s a suggestion for Arkansas educators that no one ever wants to discuss: look at the college admissions standards. How do students unprepared for college work get accepted by the college in the first place? (Hint: it’s called tuition. My guess is that these colleges are charging these students for non-college work. The kids can’t do college level work, but the school gets paid anyway. And that’s the bottomline, literally, on college remedial classes.)