I just read two stories in the online edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education from the same day that have oppositve conclusions. On one hand SAT announced that about half of students are not ready for college according to their exams. On the other hand, Florida legislators seem to know better and are allowing their students to opt out of developmental-level math courses, even though their own research says that 40% of them need to enroll in DE-level math courses.
September 26, 2013 Most Students Are Unprepared for College, SAT Results Show By Justin Doubleday "Less than half of the students who took the SAT in 2013 are ready to succeed in postsecondary education, according to a report released on Thursday by the College Board, which owns the SAT. Only 43 percent of the test takers this year met or exceeded the benchmark score of 1550 out of a possible 2400, the same proportion as last year. Those who reach that number, according to the College Board, have a greater chance of attaining a B-minus average or higher during their first year of college and persisting to graduation. The mean score for 2013 was 1498. In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, College Board officials said the number of students reaching the benchmark score had remained virtually unchanged over the last five years. "We are just not moving the needle as aggressively as it needs to be moved," said Cyndie Schmeiser, chief of assessments."
September 23, 2013, Florida Colleges Make Plans for Students to Opt Out of Remedial Courses, By Katherine Mangan "Jerry Shawver helps a student in Florida State College at Jacksonville's math lab. He wants to show lawmakers "our success rates and dare them to shut us down." New students who show up here at Florida State College at Jacksonville have to take placement tests in mathematics, English, and reading. About 70 percent end up in one or more remedial courses. For now, at least. State lawmakers voted in May to make such courses, which some see as obstacles to progress, optional for most students. Starting next year, recent high-school graduates and active-duty military members in Florida will have the choice of whether to take the courses or even the tests meant to gauge students' readiness for college-level work. That prospect has sent a wave of anxiety across the state's 28 community and state colleges, which all have open admissions. Their fear: that an influx of unprepared students could destabilize introductory courses and set those who will struggle up for failure."
What am I missing here? On one hand, experts at SAT tell us that half of students are not ready. On the other hand, Florida state legislators tell me that all the students should do as they want. After all, who wants to take a developmental-level course if it might be negative for them graduating? I don't seem to remember the research study cited by the Florida legislators that support their gamble on the lives of the students. Yes, change iw needed. But dumping unprepared students into the college courses does not help. Of course, if the Florida legislators never experienced community college life and instead attended private institutions, had plenty of social capital from previous family members that completed college, economic resources, better high schools, and the rest, their plan probably makes sense. It is like watching a train wreck in process. This time it is not a slow-moving one, but a fast-impending one. And we are all on the train since we all suffer the consequences.