Whitesburg KY

Ruling should be a wake-up call for Kentucky schools

The Council on Postsecondary Education recently took a long step toward elevating Kentucky’s higher education system to national status and ranking.

Beginning in 2009, incoming freshmen will be required to score a 19 in math and 21 in reading on the ACT college-admission exam to take courses that earn credits toward a degree.

Currently, the minimum ACT score is 18 on both math and reading. The national average is a score of 21.1. The highest possible ACT score is 36, which means the current minimum is half the total possible, hardly an impressive academic resume for students seeking degrees.

And even with the lower minimum, nearly one in three entering freshmen requires remedial work to be able to take college-level courses. The higher minimums, therefore, will mean even more freshmen will need remediation. The council estimates the higher minimums will affect 4,000 to 5,000 students.

This, of course, is the scandal of Kentucky secondary education. Kentucky high schools simply are not preparing a significant number of their college-bound graduates to study college-level courses.

The result is that Kentucky taxpayers are spending millions of scarce higher education funds each year for universities and colleges to do what the high schools did not do. For thousands of Kentucky students it represents a fourth education tier: elementary and middle school, high school, remediation year and higher education.

Clearly, there is a serious disconnect between secondary school educators and college and university educators on how best to prepare Kentucky young people for successful academic careers. And we expect only when that disconnect is eliminated and everyone begins working from the same education plan will that remedial level and its costs disappear.

We expect also the continued low minimum math ACT score for incoming freshman is a sad recognition of the state of high school math instruction in Kentucky.

By raising the ACT bar, however, the council also is laying down a challenge that Kentucky high schools simply must meet.

– The State Journal, Frankfort

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