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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

False Hope

I learned during a meeting last week conducted at Manchester Community College (MCC) that the state and federal governments will soon be redefining the term “college readiness”.  It has several implications for high school students and for their larger school communities.  Although the proposal is still being discussed in the legislatures, it’s likely that what it means to be ready for college will change quite significantly.

Here’s the quick take.  Not surprisingly, money allocated to community colleges is shrinking while enrollment is expanding.  Something has to go and that something looks like remedial classes.  So, before students are accepted to MCC, they’ll need to reach established benchmarks on the ACCUPLACER (I asked about the “placement” of these benchmarks but couldn’t get a definitive answer – probably because it hasn’t yet been established).  If they don’t grab hold of the benchmarks, but reach an accepted (but, again, not yet determined) level below them, these students will be allowed to take a VERY limited number of courses available to them and will only be allowed to matriculate as part-time students (this will affect insurance coverage on them relative to their parents' policies).  If they fail to even reach the aforementioned, they’ll be DENIED admission to MCC, required by the state to return to their local communities and enroll in adult education programs to prepare for the ACCUPLACER and get ready (college readiness) for college. So, community colleges will no longer be an option for anyone with simply a high school diploma or GED if this proposal becomes reality.  And the burden for remediation will be shifted back to local communities.

This shift in thinking is really based upon a concept known as "ability to benefit", which means that students need to demonstrate an ability to benefit from being enrolled in college (read: successfully complete college-level work).  Anything less will no longer be considered college.  Having said that, it will end the false hope that some students have of moving on to higher education without first taking sufficient care of what needs to be done in high school.

The link below will bring you to an article that addresses this issue in Arizona but sounds strikingly similar to the discussion being heard in Connecticut.


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