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College and Career Readiness

FAQ — Remediation Rates

Are remediation rates a reliable measure of college readiness?
While remediation rates are a deep concern, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education maintains remediation data are not a consistent or sole measurement of college readiness. Remediation rates can be one indicator; however, there are several caveats to keep in mind about the remediation data published by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

The Annual Performance Report issued by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reflects a much more robust view of high school performance.

The annual Missouri High School Graduates Performance Report provides data about trends in the preparation and performance of Missouri public high school graduates who attend public postsecondary institutions in Missouri. The report detailing the preparation, persistence and completion rates is prepared by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to meet the requirements of a state law, RSMo § 173.750, which went into effect in 1995.

According to the 2011 CBHE report, 36 percent of 23,969 public high school graduates entering in-state public colleges and universities in fall 2010 enrolled as freshmen in at least one remedial course in the basic academic subjects of English, mathematics, or reading.

As the CBHE report points out, care should be taken in generalizing about all Missouri public high schools based on these statewide public institution figures.

For many reasons, remediation data from MDHE’s High School Graduates Report should not be used as sole criteria for rating high schools and should not be used in that context. Consider:

What we do know is that the continuing need for remedial coursework consumes valuable time and money from students, parents, employers and taxpayers. Less than one-half of students needing remedial math are successful in earning a degree, and less than one-third of students needing remedial reading succeed.

If Missouri truly is going to become a top 10 state in education by the year 2020, it is clear that remediation numbers need to be reduced. Public school districts, state leaders and education stakeholders are all working together to do just that.

Is there a clear measure of student readiness for college?
College-entry tests, such as the ACT and SAT, are often used as valuable indicators, but these test scores cannot stand alone.

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has adopted more rigorous academic standards in communication arts and mathematics.  These standards are internationally benchmarked and are designed to reflect college and career readiness.

Proficiency levels in End-of-Course exams and proficiency on an end-of-high school assessment will be critical measures of student readiness.  End-of-Course exams are designed to serve as final exams, measuring student mastery in each course.

The CBHE report indicates it is not yet clear what effect, if any, Missouri’s new high school graduation requirements will have in reducing reported remediation rates. The new graduation requirements that went into effect with the Class of 2010 put more emphasis on core academic areas by requiring four units in English and three units each in math, science and social studies. While some school districts already required additional credits in these subjects, many more graduates throughout the state now will be completing one additional unit in each of these core subjects.

College and Career Readiness – Whose issue is it?

While public high schools are on the front lines in ensuring their graduates transition to college and careers, the issue of educational readiness is a systemic one that can be traced back to early childhood. Studies suggest that the positive results in laying a firm foundation for learning during the early years of a child’s life can increase exponentially by the time he or she reaches middle school. Currently under revision, Missouri’s education standards focus on early learning (along with academic rigor and college and career readiness) in order to prepare our students to be successful and economically competitive throughout their lifetimes.

The education community recognizes that instructional methods must improve at all levels to better prepare students for college and careers. Public education bears this huge responsibility, but it also shares this responsibility with everyone involved in education – including students and their parents. From pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education, everyone plays an important role in making sure students master content and continue to progress.

For example, one of the most meaningful steps high school students can take to prepare themselves for college and careers is to make the most out of senior year. Educators and employers suggest that seniors not go for the “easy A” but take courses that provide a challenge and possibly college credit, such as Advanced Placement courses.

Will Missouri be able to improve its reporting?

Analyses included in the High School Graduates Performance Report demonstrate the benefits of linking data across the secondary and postsecondary educational systems, but the full potential of these linkages have not yet been realized. The Commissioner of Education and the Commissioner of Higher Education have recently signed a project-based, data linkage agreement to assist in such efforts.

Additionally, a three-party agreement between the National Student Clearing House, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri Department of Higher Education will allow researchers to track not only those students who enroll in Missouri’s public postsecondary sector, but also those who enroll at the state’s independent institutions or who enroll at out-of-state institutions. With these linkages, the 2011 High School Graduates Performance Report will provide more robust data for accountability and policy development.

In the future, the state’s emerging longitudinal data system will help researchers identify secondary-level course-taking patterns that lead to postsecondary success. This could include whether students taking a particular sequence of courses were more prone to avoid remediation, return for their sophomore year of college, and earn a postsecondary degree within an established time frame. Eventually, by linking to earnings data, we could also inspect possible ties of high school (and collegiate) course-taking patterns to future earnings.

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