Too Many Arriving at College Unprepared

By: Ed Moore, Ph.D. | Posted: December 11, 2013 3:55 AM
Ed Moore - PhD

Ed Moore, Ph.D.

If you've read the news recently, you've witnessed the backlash against the implementation of the Common Core State Standards both in Florida and across the country. These new standards have been met with opposition across the political spectrum.

What folks seem to forget is that a large percentage of Florida's high school graduates are finding the transition into higher education increasingly difficult. In fact, too many students still leave high school unprepared to perform work at the college level.

Although college readiness numbers are showing some improvement, there is still much work to be done when it comes to getting our students ready for postsecondary education and transition into the global workforce.

The recent release and coverage of dismal PISA results (Programme for International Student Assessment) show U.S. students continuing to fall behind their peers around the world, while students in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore nabbed top rankings in every subject. Higher education should be to polish, enhance and enable graduates to live meaningful lives. Time spent remediating is time lost.

A report in June by the Florida College Access Network presents some sobering numbers that illustrate our state's need for continuing support of new, effective educational standards like the Common Core. Only 69 percent of our state's public high school graduates who enroll in college ultimately earn at least one year's worth of college credit within their first two years. That is lost time, money and dreams.

Additionally, merely two-thirds of public high school students who entered the Florida College System were able to meet the cutoff scores on initial placement tests in math, writing and English. This means that many students must take "catchup" courses to further prepare them before enrollment in college-level courses. State Impact Florida recently reported that in 2011, these courses cost taxpayers more than $168 million.

The Florida College Access Network study also showed that out of 100 students who began ninth grade in 2001, an average of 22 were able to graduate from high school, apply and enroll in an institution of higher learning, and finish at least a year college-level coursework in their first two years. Recent estimates have shown that this number has increased slightly to 26 out of 100 for high school students in the graduating class of 2009. Do the math: 74 percent do not even meet this low standard.

What does all this mean? Florida's K-12 education system must continue to make adjustments and improvements in order to adequately prepare students for college success. These problematic statistics are a wake-up call.

We need to invest in programs that will position our students to be competitive in college and beyond. By taking steps to implement the Common Core standards, we are investing in a system of learning that sets a floor for our children -- not a ceiling. The standards outline what we expect from our students and elevate them to a platform of high-quality education that can compete with educational systems around the country and the globe.

Our high schools should be offering more advanced college preparation programs that incorporate some of the important objectives and standards of the Common Core. By exposing students to more rigorous college-level courses early on, we can increase their chance for success as they progress from high school to higher learning institutions. We advance by students being capable of taking more college-level work while still in high school. We retreat by having to remediate at the college level.

There are plenty of opportunities for Florida principals and teachers to learn more about the keys to college preparedness. One example: Cambridge International Examinations, which will be offering a free seminar on college success for school leaders and education professionals in Orlando on Tuesday. Global Perspectives is a program for high school students that focuses on developing skills required for college-level study such as research, communication and critical thinking skills anchored to the Common Core State Standards. Events such as this serve as crucial opportunities for Florida's educators to improve and build upon the quality of learning in schools across our state.

Florida's students have benefited from college preparation programs, such as AICE, for more than a dozen years. By supporting Common Core and coursework that develops our students' ability to succeed after high school, we can enrich Florida's student talent and secure a positive future for our state and our children.

Ed Moore is president and CEO of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida. This column first appeared Dec. 9 in the Tampa Bay Times.


Comments (2)

Alina Ramirez
4:00PM DEC 11TH 2013
CCSS has many problems; in Florida, it is also plagued with unethical decisions, apparent Statutes violations and Federal interference in State Rights -- you be the judge.
- in 2006 Florida had Sunshine State Standards for Math & English Language Arts,
- the 2006 Florida Statutes further directed the Florida DOE/BOE to review and update all SSS standards within 6-year cycles to ensure their constant pedagogical pertinence and excellence,
- as a result, new 2007 SSS were developed, at least for Math & ELA,
- the 2008 Florida Statutes further directed the Florida DOE/BOE to develop standards even more rigorous and challenging than the 2007 SSS, to label this revision the Next Generation SSS and to complete the process by December of 2011,
- from 11/2008 to 7/2009 the Math & ELA standards were under review for development of NGSSS, however the process was cut short by a ‘suspend’ directive from Florida’s DOE/BOE’s which had decided to develop ‘consortium’ standards, CCSS, through ACHIEVE, a National Governors Association and Council Chiefs of State Schools Organization spin-off (all three private-Fed-Funded non-profits centrally operating in Wash D.C. & NGA members not acting in elected official capacity),
- Note: the results and utilization of the standards reviewed and updated w/n the 8 month period above are unclear; only the material developed during that time-frame or later could have been labeled Next Generation because the pertinent Statutes directives are dated 2008 – however, DOE has labeled the 2007 SSS as Next Generation,
- in 5/2010, 2 to 7months (depending on the timeline used) prior to CCSS’s adoption by DOE/BOE, Florida filed an application for a Race To The Top Federal Stimulus Grant which rewarded States, pledging to adopt ‘consortium’ standards/assessments, with a higher qualifying score,
- in 7/2010, Thomas B. Fordham Institute, also a D.C., Fed/Privately funded entity was reconstituted to Comparatively Review all individual State standards against CCSS; Florida’s 2006 SSS ELA standards were used for the comparison & we scored almost equal to CCSS; however, why were not our superior 2007 SSS used for the comparison? Would we have scored higher than CCSS, perhaps even an A. With reference to Math we scored higher than CCSS (A vs. A-), but it is unclear which Florida SSS standards TBFI used as the base,
- between July & December of 2010, CCSS was adopted at the State level (BOE/DOE), with hardly any Local Boards of Ed input and apparently total absence of individual PTSAs participation (the Regional and the State PTA/PTSA have little knowledge of the CCSS process as well),
- 9/24/2010 the Feds awarded $700M of RTTT to Florida,
- on 9/28/2010 PARCC & SBAC, both non-profits under ACHIEVE & NGA/CCSSO (copyright owners of CCSS), received $362M Fed funds for R & D of CCSS’s assessment tests.

In summary, Educational Policy is reserved to the States, the locally elected boards of education and teachers/parents who must act as the ultimate filters. It is difficult enough to interact with local City Halls, and close to impossible to access and input into distant D.C. centralized, private bureaucrats all Federally funded.

We are fortunate in the U.S. to be a Federation; 50 unique Constitutions, 50 laboratories – if one fails, 49 others are awaiting to take the lead -- it is competition and innovation, not ‘centralized standards’, that made us the World’s Superpower. Finally, by allowing Federal Funding to by-pass State elected officials in favor of ‘non-elected private non-profits’ we weaken our representative government; he/she who holds the purse strings holds the power and, only if elected, can he/she be held accountable at the ballot box.
10:24AM DEC 11TH 2013
Another Bush cultists sent out to tout the benefits of turning over education completely to the people bringing us Obamcare. ObamaCore will be no different and no less of a disaster. The Florida Legislature sold our childten to Barack Obama for a bribe amountint ot $259.00 per child on the urging of the machine that is the cult of Bush and the Progressive globalsist view that wants to destroy state and individual sovereignty. They sold our sovereignty and we demand that they give it back.

Jeb Bush, John Thrasher, Charlie Crist, Dean Cannon, Gary Chartrand, butt out these are OUR children, not yours.

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