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STUDY FINDS THAT RHODE ISLAND STUDENTS ARE NOT ALL COLLEGE READY

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"College-track students are taking math and English classes that require analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, [but] students taking a more watered-down curriculum are not learning the skills they need to succeed in college."

A new study by Jack Warner, Rhode Island’s state commissioner of higher education, found that Rhode Island’s high school curriculum does not adequately prepare all students for rigorous college-level work. The study examined how well the graduating class of 2001 performed at the state’s three public colleges-the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), Rhode Island College (RIC), and the University of Rhode Island (URI). Of the 10,083 students who graduated, more than 25 percent enrolled at one of these three institutions.

According to an article in the Providence Journal, “College-track students are taking math and English classes that require analytical thinking and problem-solving skills, [but] students taking a more watered-down curriculum are not learning the skills they need to succeed in college.” The problem is not unique to Rhode Island. In Public High School Graduation and College Readiness Rates in the United StatesJay Greene of the Manhattan Institute found that only 70 percent of all high school students graduate on time and only 32 percent leave high school “college ready.”

In a recent interview, Warner admitted being disturbed to learn that “many students wanted to attend college, but found themselves poorly equipped once they got there.” The study found that 30 percent of students who enrolled in CCRI in 2001 did not return the following year. In addition, more than 60 percent of the freshman class at CCRI had to take two or more remedial classes. However, students at the more selective RIC and URI appear to be more prepared: 86 percent of entering freshman at RIC and almost 94 percent of freshman at URI returned for a second year.

Education Commissioner Peter McWalters said that the state is aware of the problem and is taking action to get back on the right track. He stressed that public schools had to teach the higher-level thinking skills that are typically associated with an Algebra II class or a college-track English course. In the near future, the newspaper reported, Rhode Island seniors will have to complete a senior project or a portfolio of their work, or pass a series of end-of-course exams, in order to graduate.

Read the complete article at http://www.projo.com/news/content/projo_20040309_reten9.ce14b.html.

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