The entire education community, including colleges and universities, needs to work on getting students ready for college while they are in the primary and secondary system, said one of Kentucky’s top education officials Monday at Ashland Community and Technical College.

Once they are in college, helping them succeed is a top priority, said Bob King, president of the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education.

At stake, potentially, is the economic well-being of the United States, King said.

The Council on Post-Secondary Education, which sets tuition rates for Kentucky’s public colleges and universities and approves academic programs, is getting more involved in college readiness issues, said King, who came to ACTC on one of a series of visits to public colleges in the state.

The shift results from Senate Bill 1, the 2009 legislation that for the first time demands alignment between what is taught in Kentucky’s public schools and what students are expected to know when they enter college.

Graduation rates and grade-point averages aren’t as significant in measuring college readiness as the need for remediation, he said.

Students who enter college underprepared graduate at half the rate of students who are ready. They also suffer economically because they have to take remedial courses that don’t count toward graduation.

Colleges and universities must play a part in making sure more students are ready when they enter college, King said. Colleges need to train better teachers and develop better on the job professional training opportunities for working teachers.

Colleges also need to get involved in bridge programs, working with teachers and students while they are in high school, and expand opportunities for early college credit and dual credit.

Once students get to college, their colleges need to take more responsibility for shepherding them to degrees, including more support where remediation is needed and intervention for struggling students, he said.

Studies show that the more a country invests on developing its “human capital” — i.e. brainpower  — the more likely it is to sustain growth, King said. In other words, countries that realize growth in numbers of college graduates also tend to see increases in GDP.

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com

or (606) 326-2652.

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