Unready and unsuccessful

Most students entering California community colleges are unprepared for college work, concludes Back to Basics, a report by the state legislative analyst. Only one in 10 students in a non-credit basic skills class will go on to pass a for-credit class.

High school students often don’t realize their reading, writing and math skills aren’t adequate for college, the report says. New community college students may not be assessed or required to complete remedial courses within a certain time limit.

The report recommends using the state’s math and English test to assess college readiness so high school students have time to improve their skills before they enroll in college.

A Pell Institute study finds low-income students who are the first in their families to go to college typically start at two-year colleges — and end there.

“For too many low-income, first-generation students, the newly opened door to American higher education has been a revolving one,” said Vincent Tinto, a Pell Institute Senior Scholar and distinguished professor of higher education at Syracuse University

Six years after enrolling, 32 percent of low-income, first generation students have earned a certificate or two-year degree; 11 percent have a bachelor’s degree. For more advantaged students, 11 percent earn a two-year degree and 55 percent complete a bachelor’s degree.

Disadvantaged group who worked 1 to 20 hours were much more likely to complete a degree than those who worked more than 20 hours or not at all.

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  1. This may sound blasé, but shouldn’t we celebrate that first generations went on to something. It is just like your post yesterday http://joannejacobs.com/2008/06/18/computers-dont-boost-poor-kids-grades/ (I apologize I am new to blogging and don’t know how to make that a pretty link) about the computers not boosting kid’s grades. The important part is that they are using the computers and beginning to understand… perhaps even more with guidance… what a powerful tool it can be. These students are attempting college something that there parents would have never dreamed. 32% are discovering the difference that even a two year degree can make and will hopefully push their younger family members or their children to go further then they went. It is how most of us grew up. Many of our parents (I am 25, raised upper middle class) were first generation college folk, I am now a master degreed. I think instead of constantly focusing on the negative that these studies seem to be searching for, we should celebrate the small victories. What is more important no school or some school? Praise them for what they have been able to do or blast them with studies pointing out their failures?

  2. Kim,
    it’s possible to aim higher and achieve the mark. The opportunity cost is immense and does cry out to be underlined.

  3. I would be happy just to have them finish a two year college. So many of the students from my school go two blocks down the street to the community college, take one semester, find they either do not have the skills, or they cannot afford the books, and quit. Maybe, just maybe, 5 years later, they will return when they realize they cannot get a higher paying job without further education.

  4. Chris, I certainly agree that we need to aim high. I just think that like our classrooms positive reinforcement is the a better means then sprawling out negative statistics. That article http://insidehighered.com/news/2008/06/16/first could have very well read with the statistics from the past 6 years, todays stats, projections for the following six and discussed ways to improve this. I guess I am just tired of hearing about the failing systems without hearing about the ways to improve it.