Forty percent of Texas high-schoolers whose grade-point averages mark them as A students end up taking remedial courses when they get to college, the state’s higher education commissioner told Senate committee members Tuesday.
That’s an alarming statistic.
At the same time, Commissioner Raymund Paredes said other college readiness markers are lagging.
“We’re close to the bottom on SAT scores, so that’s cause for alarm,” Paredes said. He testified to a joint meeting of the Senate Education and Higher Education committees.
Yet standards developed eight years ago to measure college readiness have produced numbers that paint a different picture.
Only 37 percent of Texas high school graduates were deemed college-ready in 2007, but that figure rose to 57 percent in 2012. The number stood at 54 percent in 2014, the latest available figure, the Texas Tribune reported.
And while those percentages were going up, actual college completion rates have remained “essentially flat,” said Mike Morath, the state commissioner in charge of the Texas Education Agency.
It’s time for more accurate standards. We can’t have it that students deemed ready for college clearly are not.
Paredes said new standards are overdue.
He also pointed to another problem, this one tied to explosive popularity and student numbers in “dual-credit” courses. These are classes high school students take to earn credit for graduation and as initial credits in college.
Paredes said there’s nothing to show that those courses are “appropriately rigorous” — meaning that they reflect college-level work.
Dual-credit courses are overseen by local school districts and colleges, not by the state.
Paredes said the best way to measure readiness is with a college entrance exam known as the Texas Success Initiative.
He said students should be required to take that exam and prove their readiness for college-level work before being allowed to take dual-credit courses.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick charged the two committees with studying college and career readiness standards in preparation for the 2017 legislative session.
He also said they should examine the impact of legislation passed in 2013 lowering high school testing and graduation requirements.
Opponents of the 2013 law say it reduced educational rigor in Texas schools, while advocates say it was meant to ease the path for students who wish to start careers rather than enter college.