California Proposes High School Academic Standards to Combat Higher Education Remediation

Article excerpt

California's higher education officials have

teamed up with the public schools to create

the state's first proposal for academic

standards for high school students.

The preliminary proposal, which was

unveiled last month, is a cooperative effort to

address the skyrocketing necessity for

remedial education for students entering the

state's community colleges and universities.

California Community College System

Chancellor Tom Nussbaum joined leaders of

the state's two university systems and state

schools chief Delaine Eastin in releasing the

proposal for increasing high school graduation

requirements in mathematics and English at a

meeting of the California State University

board of trustees.

"We all share a common problem: Our

children are not achieving at a high enough

level," Eastin, the state superintendent of

public instruction, said in an interview. "Not

having standards allows all manner of things

to pass as education."

The proposal was developed by the

California Education Round Table, a group of

educators that includes Nussbaum, Eastin,

California State University Chancellor Barry

Munitz, University of California President

Richard Atkinson, and representatives of the

Association of Independent California

Colleges and Universities and the California

Postsecondary Education Commission.

Community college officials do not know

what percentage of the 1.4 million students in

the state's 106 community colleges require

remedial education. But in 1993, the system

tallied almost 500,000 enrollments for basic

skills courses--a number that includes

students enrolled in several remedial classes.

Although many are older students without

recent formal schooling, many others are

entering directly from high school or within a

few years of graduation. Some community

colleges in the state claim more than 80

percent of their students are not prepared for

college courses.

Earning good grades and performing well

on college-entrance exams qualifies the top

one-third of the state's graduates for

admission to the California State University

system. Yet almost half of those incoming

freshman are not prepared for college courses

and are routed first into remedial programs.

One of the solutions to this increasing

problem is more interaction between

educators at all levels and involvement of

college and university officials in K-12

education, says Dr. John E. Roueche,

director of the Community College Leadership

Program at the University of Texas at Austin.

"There need to be more partnerships, more

collaborations between the colleges and K-12

systems," said Roueche, who with his wife,

Suanne, co-authored Between A Rock And A Hard

Place: The At-Risk Student in Open-Door

College, which describes the dilemma

community colleges face in providing remedial

education to so many students. "There are a lot

more things we can do, not only to help

students get through high school, but to identify

those things that will prepare them to succeed in

college," he said.

The California Education Round Table

has recommended that all but the most

severely handicapped students

complete four years of English and two

years of higher-level mathematics in

order to graduate. Students with limited

English proficiency, many of whom

first attend community colleges if they

go on to higher education at all, would

also be expected to meet the higher

standards. …