Thursday, December 3, 2009

College readiness benchmarks: rubber about to meet road

In 2007, the Council for Postsecondary Education voted to raise the ACT scores it counts as college readiness benchmarks. The rules now say that students need an 18 in English, a 19 in mathematics, and a 20 in reading to be counted as college-ready. Starting with the fall of 2010, if their scores are lower, they can enroll at KCTCS or a public university, but they will have to take a non-credit course or a course with added academic support during their first year to catch up in the weak subject.

Today, the Courier-Journal reports on how institutions are scrambling to get ready for those requirements. Some highlights:
  • "The new regulation will increase the number of first-time college students needing remedial math by 7 percent; and remedial reading by 10 percent, said Sue Cain, the college readiness and developmental education initiative coordinator for the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education."
  • "The state's community colleges might feel the biggest impact, with officials there estimating between 17,400 and 20,000 new students will need to take remedial courses"
  • "Officials at the state's two research institutions — the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky — say they likely will not see a large increase in students needing developmental education, in part because they have selective admissions. The average ACT score for incoming freshmen at UK this fall was 24.7, and 24.5 at UofL."
  • "Lana Jennings, director of Murray State University's developmental education program, Murray State University Community College, said students often are initially shocked to learn they need to take remedial classes."
One thing I'd add to the article is that no 2009 or 2010 Kentucky public high school graduate should be surprised by these requirements. In 2008, we began requiring every junior to take the ACT and every public high school to provide added support to every student who scored below those benchmarks. If those changes are working, every graduate this year and in future years will at least have clear information on those rules well in advance of starting college.

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