Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

August 23, 2013

More to do

Too many high school grads are unprepared for college

Staff reports
The Independent

ASHLAND — More Kentucky high school students than ever are graduating prepared for success in college, but they still rank well  below the national average in this important area. While moving in the right direction, Kentucky high schools must continue to do a better job of preparing their young students for success after high school.

In fact, only 18 percent — or fewer than one in five — of the members of the  class of 2013 in Kentucky high schools were deemed ready for college work in English, reading, mathematics, and science based on the results of the American College Test — or ACT — which all Kentucky high school students now are required to take, usually at the end of their junior year. That national average is 26 percent, or better than one in four. Such a wide difference between young Kentucky high school graduates and their peers in the rest of the nation is unacceptable and should sound a call for action by high schools throughout the commonwealth.

The good news from the latest ACT scores is that Kentucky students have continued to make improvements during each of the last five years. That’s better than falling farther behind, but other than that, we find little to cheer as long as Kentucky high school graduates lag so far behind the national average,

The broadest difference was in math, where 30 percent of Kentucky graduates met college readiness marks, compared with 44 percent throughout the U.S. In science, statewide 28 percent met the mark, while 36 percent were on target nationally.

In English, the difference was 57 percent of Kentucky’s graduates compared with 64 percent nationwide. For reading, 36 percent of Kentucky students met the benchmarks, compared with 44 percent in the U.S.

The low scores recorded by so many Kentucky high school students on the ACT means that an unacceptably high number of new high school graduates will have to take — and pay for — noncredit remedial classes in college to learn what they should have learned in high school. The remedial courses significantly increases the amount of time and money needed to receive a four-year bachelor’s degree. That alone should be incentive enough for students to study more in high school so they can avoid the remedial classes.

Maybe it does for some, but far more teenagers need to better prepare themselves for college, technical school or just to enter the workforce immediately after high school.