Published April 10 2014 in CommonWealth Magazine
Another approach to college readiness gap
Assessment and instruction are key
by Gary Kaplan
ON A VISIT to Massachusetts last month, US Education Secretary Arne Duncan cautioned against resting on our laurels. Despite the Bay State’s nation-leading test scores, he chided, “Four in ten of your high school graduates aren’t ready for college. Forty percent are taking remedial classes. That’s a staggering number.”
The secretary didn’t quite have his facts right. Four of every ten students entering public colleges and universities in Massachusetts aren’t ready for the course work and require remedial classes. The number for community colleges alone is even higher: 65 percent of students entering the two-year colleges need to take remedial math.
But Duncan needn’t have worried about complacency in the Commonwealth. Even as he scolded, Commissioner of Higher Education Richard Freeland was wrapping up his critique of remedial education for the spring issue of CommonWealth magazine. In his article, the commissioner gives a thorough review of the importance of public higher education as the workforce pipeline of our skill-based economy; and he zeroes in on developmental education—especially the 65 percent rate at the community college level – as the bottleneck at the mouth of that pipeline.