Many Who Pass State High School Graduation Tests Show Up to College Unprepared

Luba Ostashevsky
February 24, 2016

The number of students passing exit tests and graduating from high school is at an all-time high, but huge numbers of these graduates turn out to be unprepared for college. Nearly 60 percent of students attending two-year colleges end up in costly and time-consuming remedial courses to strengthen their skills before being let into college-level classes, according to figures compiled by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University. Some students, faced with the extra course work and expenses, just give up.

In Massachusetts, for example, a study by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education found that more than a third of high school students who scored “proficient” on the state-required graduation test and enrolled in a Massachusetts public university or college were unprepared enough to be have to take at least one remedial course.“There is a disconnect that has existed for a long time in terms of the measures used for high school graduation and if a student is ready to succeed in a college-level class,” said Mary Fulton, who has studied this issue as a senior research analyst at the Education Commission of the States, which works with state policymakers on education. “We haven’t aligned the curriculum and assessments so that we can be sure that if a student mastered high school material then they’re ready for college.”