Remedial ed ban forces readiness push

Connecticut’s ban on no-credit remedial courses at community colleges goes into effect this fall. Colleges and high schools are working to help students catch up so they can pass college-level classes. The alternative is a “transitional” readiness program that’s not likely to transition many people. (Low-level remedial classes rarely lead to success either.)

Students like STEM but don’t succeed

Nearly half of  students say they’re interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields — including health care — when they start college, but few will earn a STEM degree, according to a Complete College America report.

Forty-eight percent of recent ACT takers express interest in a STEM major, reports ACT. Forty-one percent of new four-year students and 45 percent of two-year students choose a STEM major, including health sciences, according to National Center for Education Statistics data. Four-year students favor health science, biological science and engineering, while two-year students are interested in health sciences and computer science.

Most don’t make it.

Among 4-year students, 57% of students who choose health sciences and 59% who choose computer science never complete a credential in that field.  The problem is more profound at 2-year colleges where 58% of health science and 72% of computer science students leave the program without a credential.

Those who stick with STEM complete college-level math in their first year, the report finds. Quitters don’t. They also complete few science courses.

Complete College America proposes scheduling college-level math and a majority of STEM courses in the first year to keep students on track. That will help only if students are prepared to pass college math, which many are not.

Nursing is a dream career for many young women from working-class families. Perhaps their brothers dream of being computer techs. It takes a strong foundation in math and science to turn those dreams into reality.

Indiana pulls out of Common Core

Four years after adopting Common Core standards, Indiana has become the first state to withdraw. However, critics complain the state-designed “college and career readiness” standards are “too similar to Common Core,” reports the Indianapolis Star.

Several states are passing “standards nearly identical to Common Core, but under a different name,” reports the Washington Post. 

An Oklahoma state Senate committee on Monday passed a version that would strip the Common Core name while leaving many or most of the same requirements intact.

Governors are “trying to find a way to walk this fine line by giving voice to the tea party concerns without backing away from higher standards,” said Michael Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.

Stop pretending college is for everyone

“College for all” sets low achievers up for “almost certain failure,” argues Fordham’s Mike Petrilli. “High-quality career and technical education” would enable some to succeed.

But if students aren’t “college material,” will they be “blue-collar material?”

Is college worth it for C students? Check out Robert VerBruggen’s graph of ability, education and income.

When core-aligned kids get to college …

Common Core standards are supposed to improve college readiness, but they’ll leave students even less prepared for college than they are now, writes Peter Wood on Minding the Campus.

The Common Core emphasizes how to glean information from “informational texts,”  he writes. This includes “picture books, novels, poems, YouTube videos, works of history, and speeches by notables such as Abraham Lincoln.”

The trouble is that if you see the written word as mainly a device for conveying information, you miss many other things that writing can do. It stirs emotions; it points to truths beyond itself; alternatively, it conveys lies; it may possess beauty or it may be ugly; it can cause us to ask questions that the text itself does not ask; it possesses implications; it belongs to and participates in a larger context; it taps into secret memories; it rallies us to public causes.

The Common Core “slights” literature, cutting “students off from the foundation of a liberal education.”

Students who know how to read “informational texts,” and to read every piece of writing as though it is an “informational text,” are ill-prepared for Plato’s Republic or Shakespeare’s King Lear. Indeed, they are ill-prepared for Goodnight Moon.

To a great extent, colleges have abandoned their core curricula, Wood writes.

Students these days are lulled with the illusion that they can become “critical thinkers” by studying whatever catches their interest, rather than what their colleges have deemed the most important works. That whole do-it-yourself approach puts a premium on the capacity of college students to read with their eyes wide open and to get to places well beyond the “information” that a “text” lays out.

“Colleges will have to adapt to what the Common Core teaches — and what it fails to teach,” Wood believes. “It teaches a mechanical way of reading that is poorly suited to literature, philosophy, history, and the rest of the liberal arts.  It also fails to teach the math students need to begin a college-level curriculum in the sciences.”

The last SAT question

Jimmy Fallon nails it:

Not ready for college: Will the Core help?

Community college leaders hope Common Core standards and testing will reduce the need for remediation. Core-aligned tests evaluate 11th graders’ college readiness, giving them a year to catch up before starting college. But some think students may pass the new tests but still be unprepared for college-level work.

Minority men aim high, but few graduate

Black and Latino males start community college with lofty goals, but few achieve their dreams. They’re more likely than white males to use tutoring, computer labs and other academic supports, but they also are less prepared for college-level work.

Study: High school grades predict college grades

College students admitted without submitting SAT or ACT scores do just as well as “submitters,” concludes a new study. Applicants with good high school grades will earn good college grades and complete a degree, said William Hiss, the study’s main author.  He is the former dean of admissions at Bates College in Maine, one of the first colleges to go test-optional.  

Defining Promise looks at students admitted to small, private liberal arts schools with test-optional policies and large public universities that admit most students based on high school grades and class rank.  (For the public universities, the study looked at admitted students with below-average test scores.) Also included were a few minority-serving institutions and two art schools.

Submitters had slightly higher high school grades and significantly lower test scores.  Their college grades and graduation rates were very similar to nonsubmitters’ success rates.

While many students outperformed their SAT or ACT scores, high school grades strongly predicted college success, the study found. 

. . .  kids who had low or modest test scores, but good high school grades, did better in college than those with good scores but modest grades.

Hiss says it’s probably not so surprising that a pattern of hard work, discipline and curiosity in high school shows up “as highly predictive, in contrast to what they do in three or four hours on a particular Saturday morning in a testing room.”

I can’t see elite colleges and universities going test optional: They have way too many straight-A applicants.

The SAT will be redesigned to “strongly focus on the core knowledge and skills” needed in college, said David Coleman, the new board president, in a letter to College Board members. Some believe the new SAT will look more like the ACT, which is gaining market share.

Coleman, a co-author of Common Core standards, has promised to “move beyond delivering assessments to delivering opportunity for students so they will be better prepared to succeed in college.” Nobody knows what “delivering opportunity” means, writes Alexander Russo.

Ready or not, here they come

Ready or not, most  Florida college students are skipping remedial classes under a new state law that lets unprepared students start at the college level, if they wish.