Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It’s Going To Take How Long To Fix Kentucky’s College Remedial Course Requirements?!!!

Four days after I posted the new information from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) about Kentucky’s continuing high levels of college remedial requirements, Susan Weston at the Prichard Blog got around to mentioning it.

Her take, not surprisingly, is different from mine. She says that “we have progress, but not enough progress.”

I think that really understates the severity of the situation.

Here is a graph estimating how long it will take to eliminate our college remediation requirements. This is based on the changes in remediation rates from 2002 to 2006 and assumes the CPE keeps its current, very low ACT score thresholds of a score below 18 for determining which students need remediation.

The biggest problem is in math. If you look at my earlier blog, there was a scant, one percent improvement in Kentucky’s college math remediation rate between 2002 and 2006, a period spanning four years. That is an average improvement of only 0.25 points per year. At this rate, it will take another 136 years to eliminate the math remediation requirements in Kentucky.

In reading it will take another 29 years to eliminate the remedial requirement at the current rate of progress. That is about three more decades of under-serving kids, if you pay attention to things like that.

In English, where we are improving at a rate of 1.25 points per year, we could eliminate the remedial requirements in our colleges around 22 years down the road.

Unfortunately, I don’t think the competition from places like India and China will give us that long to drag our heels. Anyway, losing too many more generations of our kids to under-preparation is simply unacceptable.

Sadly, the graph above understates the real situation. The CPE has announced a future increase in the ACT score threshold for remedial requirements. That will have the effect of increasing all the estimated times above. The change is being made because more kids really need remediation than are currently being identified.

So, thank goodness for Senate Bill 1, which will hopefully lead to a refocusing of our schools on what our students really will need in the future. Clearly, our progress under the existing system isn’t anywhere close to what our kids and the commonwealth need – unless you think taking more than a century to get things right is just a little slow.

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