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Are you Really Prepared for College?

August 6, 2016


Editor-at-large Walter Russell Mead points to a report showing 75 percent of entering freshman aren’t ready for college.


Three out of four graduates aren’t fully prepared for college and likely need to take at least one remedial class, according to the latest annual survey from the nonprofit testing organization ACT, which measured half of the nation’s high school seniors in English, math, reading and science proficiency.


Only 25 percent cleared all of ACT’s college preparedness benchmarks, while 75 percent likely will spend part of their freshman year brushing up on high-school-level course work. The 2011 class is best prepared for college-level English courses, with 73 percent clearing the bar in that subject. Students are most likely to need remedial classes in science and math, the report says.


Although the results are slightly better than last year — 24 percent of the 2010 graduating class met ACT’s four thresholds — the report highlights a glaring disconnect between finishing high school and being ready for the academic challenges of college.


These ACT results are another sign that states need to raise their academic standards and commit to education reforms that accelerate student achievement,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Tuesday.


Mead concurs:

The truth is that if American high schools (and middle and elementary schools) were doing their jobs, many students could get all the formal education they need in 12 years.


In any case, we need to move from a ‘time based’ to a competency based educational system.  You don’t get a high school diploma because you have spent 12 years in classrooms; you get a high school diploma because you have demonstrated a certain level of core competence.


A fortiori for BA, MA and JD and PhD degrees.  American students could learn much more in much less time — and at much less cost — than they now do. Making this move quickly and effectively is one of the keys to American success in the new century.


All this assumes that the primary job of high school is to prepare students for college and that all students are college material. Neither is true.


That a high school diploma should certify possession of a set of skills, rather than a dozen years of attendance, is a given. Indeed, most states have, over the last quarter century or so, moved toward standardized testing as a barri