Tennessee Higher Ed Commission: High School Grads Are Not Prepared For College

According to new data from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, high school graduates in the state are unprepared for college despite an increase in student enrollment. The data analyzed students who were in community colleges and universities.

One-third to almost half of Tennessee students who entered public colleges during the 2016-17 academic year needed remedial courses in math and reading, according to chief policy and strategy officer Emily House. Students require remediation in those subjects if they scored an 18 or below on the ACT exam.

The data comes after additional students are attending college tuition free with assistance from Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect.

“Since the implementation of Promise, the college going rate has increased, and many more students who perhaps may have not enrolled in higher education did so, that’s a very good thing,” House said during a recent Senate Education Committee meeting. “The academic profile in those ACT scores of those students, however, was a bit different than what it was prior to Promise.”

The report addresses questions regarding how to improve the education system better prepare students if they choose to pursue higher education after high school, according to News Channel 5 Nashville.

Although, approximately 45 percent of college students in the state graduate from Tennessee two- and four-year public higher education institutions within six years, according to a recent report from the State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE).

Shelby and Davidson counties in Tennessee had the most significant numbers.

Fifty-eight percent of students living in Shelby County who enrolled in colleges needed remediation in mathematics and 41 percent needed for reading. In Davidson County, 62 percent of high school graduates needed help in mathematics and 47 percent for reading.

“It was not a shocking number,” said Volunteer State Community College president Dr. Jerry Faulkner. “It is a continuing chronic issue that we’ve not been able to fully solve. We as colleges have a responsibility to work with our K-12 partners to help them prepare the students that come to us.”

SCORE has outlined four priorities to improve education in the state such as requesting better communication between K-12, higher education and workforce development at the local and state levels and additional options for career exploration and work-based learning.

“SCORE sees an urgent need to better prepare Tennessee students for college and career,” said SCORE president and CEO David Mansouri. “This week we called for redesigning high schools to give all students more challenging, relevant courses and personalized college and career advising. Parents need to know if their child is on track to be ready for the demands of college and the workplace. Improving TNReady test administration must be a priority because grades and diplomas do not tell the full story of student readiness for success after high school.”

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