By Josh Dulaney, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/1dDIFDI
8/20/13, 8:54 PM PDT :: College is starting up again, but are local students ready for it?
According to ACT, which administers one of the two major tests used by colleges to admit students, readiness for higher education remains a sore spot among the vast majority of graduating high school students.
Just 39 percent of ACT-tested 2013 graduates met three or more of the four benchmarks in English, reading, math and science, according to the yearly report, The Condition of College & Career Readiness 2013, which was released Tuesday.
Perhaps of more concern, 31 percent of graduates did not meet any of the benchmarks, according to the report.
California students fared better, but not by much. According to the report, 33 percent met all four benchmarks, compared to just 26 percent nationwide.
Nonetheless, administrators at Cal State Northridge and other CSU campuses insist their new freshmen are up to the challenge — many having boned up in remedial courses before the new fall term begins Monday.
“They are as prepared as any of our recent classes going back for the last five years or so,” said Elizabeth Adams, associate vice president of undergraduate studies at CSUN. “By our measure, these students are better prepared than we expected, testing better in freshman reading and math.”
Last year, the Cal State University Chancellor’s Office initiated an Early Start program, requiring incoming freshman who have not tested at the college level to enroll in a remedial summer course. In addition, struggling students can also enroll year-long in a Developmental Math Program to improve their skills.
About 3,000 students at Cal State Northridge have signed up for each respective program. Preliminary results show that students who enrolled in Early Start were more likely to improve their grade point average, in addition to staying in school, Adams said.
“This summer, our math program has been exceptionally successful,” she said. “We’ve had several hundred students moving up one level in math.”
ACT officials said research shows that students who fail to meet benchmarks are more likely to struggle in first-year courses on college campuses. The benchmarks specify the minimum scores students need to indicate a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher grade in college freshman classes.
The report also showed that minority students aren’t as prepared for college as others. According to the report, “no more than 48 percent of African American, Hispanic and American Indian students met any of the four ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.”
In surveying the ACT scores of a record 1.8 million students, or 54 percent of the graduating class in the United States, researchers found that the students are still least likely to be ready for college-level science classes, with only 36 percent of test-takers meeting the benchmark.
In 2013, 64 percent of ACT-tested high school graduates met the English benchmark for college readiness.
Despite the lack of prep in high school graduates nationwide, Cal State Northridge administrators remained optimistic about a record class of an expected 5,900 incoming freshmen.
“We are ready, willing and able to handle the record freshman class,” said Michael Neubauer, CSUN’s new vice provost, a former math professor.
“We’re excited about the start of the year,” added Adams, during a joint interview. “We’ll have a great time. With that number of students, we’re ready.
“When a student is eligible for CSUN admission, they are able to be successful in most of the college areas. The only area we see substantial deficiency in is math — and we are working with those students.”
Staff Writer Dana Bartholomew contributed to this report.