Too Many Mass. Students Unprepared For College, Officials Say

By Sarah Birnbaum

Oct. 20, 2011

Too many students graduate from high school without adequate college preparation, say Massachusetts education officials. (Jason Bache/Flickr)

BOSTON — Top Massachusetts officials say too many students are entering college unprepared.

The problem, says Richard Freeland, the Massachusetts Commissioner for Higher Education, is that too many students pass the MCAS test, graduate from high school but still can’t do basic college level reading, writing and math.

Statistics back up the claim. State officials say 60 percent of students entering community colleges take remedial classes. At the state universities, 24 percent of new students get academic catch up work. Even at the University of Massachusetts campuses, the number is ten percent.

But Freeland says the statistics don’t necessarily tell the whole story , because they just reflect the number of students who actually enroll in the remedial courses, not the students who place into them.

Freeland says state resources are drained when colleges have to provide remedial classes. And he says those classes don’t always help.

“The chances for success in college for many of our students are severely compromised because we know that nationally students who take even one remedial course have only one chance in four of completing a degree,” Freeland said.

State education officials say they’re taking a number of steps to better prepare students for college, including developing more rigorous high school curricula.

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