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“WHAT DID I DO WRONG?”: New Jersey College Students Push for Tougher High School Courses to Help Future Students Avoid Remediation

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“After all, I was taking college level English. . . . I felt insecure. I felt stupid. I wondered what were those secret courses that I was supposed to be taking? What did I do wrong?”

Last week, the Associated Press reported on several New Jersey college students who asked the New Jersey Board of Education to adopt more rigorous high school requirements in the hope that they could help future high school graduates avoid having to take remedial courses in college, as they had been required to do.

The article focuses on Christine Arkainno, currently a student at Wilmington University in Delaware. In high school, Arkainno was told that the basic English she took was not enough for college, so she insisted that her high school advisor place her in college prep courses during her senior year. However, Arkainno still had to take remedial courses when she enrolled at Cumberland County College in New Jersey.

“I thought I was reading quite well,” said Arkainno said. “After all, I was taking college level English. . . . I felt insecure. I felt stupid. I wondered what were those secret courses that I was supposed to be taking? What did I do wrong?”

Under the proposal under consideration in New Jersey, students would have to take higher levels of math, more rigorous English, and receive personalized learning plans that would prepare them for college or a career. The proposal, which is expected to be in draft form for several months, would also require instruction in Algebra II and chemistry and exams that assess work readiness.

Opponents of the proposal focus on the additional costs that it would be incurred in the form of new science labs, teacher training, and additional standardized tests.

“Students ask for tougher high school courses” is available at
http://www.app.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080918/NEWS0301/809180451/1007/NEWS03.

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