To the Editor:
Two recent reports have called for greater student access to college, and also have suggested that the United States must do a better job of ensuring that college students graduate.
Late last year, the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education released “Measuring Up 2008.” As described in your article “States Earn Poor Marks on College” (Dec. 10, 2008), the report generally decried increasing college costs and poor academic preparation in high schools. The second report, “Coming to Our Senses: Education and the American Future,” was released in December by the Commission on Access, Admissions, and Success in Higher Education, a group supported by the College Board. It hopes that by 2025, 55 percent of young Americans will be leaving school with a community college degree or higher. Currently, only about 40 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds have attained some type of postsecondary degree or credential.
While noble goals, increasing college access and improving college graduation rates should not be our top priorities. We are already graduating too many students from high school incapable of doing college-level work. Act Inc., which administers a college-admissions test and publishes a college-readiness report each year based on the test, concluded in 2008 that less than one-quarter of students met all the college-readiness benchmarks. And nearly 60 percent of those enrolling in the California State University system, the nation’s largest, must take a remediation class as a condition of admission.
Until we beef up our K-12 services, we should not send any more underprepared students to college. Let’s put some oomph into our precollegiate education, so that those secondary school graduates who do attend won’t be taking high school classes once they get there.
A version of this article appeared in the February 04, 2009 edition of Education Week as Beef Up K-12 Services Before Pushing College