An interesting combination of reports tumbled out this week, with implications for the college- and career-readiness agenda. One finds that college enrollment is at an all-time high—driven mostly by growth at the community-college level—and the other finds that states are lowering their academic standards.
Few are surprised by the finding that states lowered their standards to avoid the hand-slaps of No Child Left Behind (see, for instance, Robert Pondiscio at the Core Knowledge blog: “I’m shocked, shocked!!”). That’s been anticipated, studied and reported on before.
Unfortunately, it’s just more fodder for pessimism that schools are not up to the job of holding all students to high expectations at a time when they risk some pretty scary life outcomes without solid postsecondary education.
And while one can cheer that community-college enrollments are up, the other Pew finding that four-year college enrollments are flat offers some cause for concern, since outcomes for those with bachelor’s degrees tend to be better than for those with certificates or two-year degrees.
One bright spot in the Pew report: the share of young adults graduating from high school is at an all-time high, a full percentage point higher in 2008 than it was in 2007.
A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.