Indiana spends about $7 billion a year on K-12 schools and claims to be a pioneer in education reform. Yet thousands of its high school students are graduating without the basic math, reading and writing skills needed to succeed in college.
That’s what a series of reports from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education have shown since the state started tracking data on the collegereadiness of its students 11 years ago.
And that’s a problem. Ninety-nine percent of jobs created since the Great Recession of 2008 have gone to workers with at least some college, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said Monday. Though there has been impressive statewide improvement since 2012 in the number of students who graduated from public high schools and entered college without needing remediation, 20 percent who graduated with the state’s required “college preparatory” diploma, known as Core 40, had to take at least one remedial course after enrolling at one of Indiana’s state-supported colleges.
Just 14 percent of Howard County’s 2015 graduates with Core 40 diplomas required remedial help.
College preparedness is a national problem. More than 1.7 million college freshmen across the U.S. take remedial courses each year. The annual cost of remediation to states, schools and students is close to $7 billion, according to a 2012 report by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Much of that money seems wasted: Fewer than 50 percent of students enrolled in remedial courses complete them. Those who do find their path to graduation delayed or derailed. Two-thirds of students in four-year colleges needing remediation fail to earn their degrees within six years.
Fewer than 8 percent of students in two-year colleges earn their degrees within four years.
Over the last decade, Indiana’s college attainment rate has dropped to 42nd in the nation. During the same time, Indiana has fallen into 34th among states for percentage of residents living in poverty and to 34th in the nation for per capita personal income.
Former Gov. Mike Pence made college readiness one of his top priorities when taking office in 2013. “The need to remediate our high school graduates is a failure for our students,” he’s said.
Information shared by Commissioner Lubbers indicates that emphasis has paid off. Since 2012, 28 percent fewer Hoosiers earning general high school diplomas required college remediation. Eighteen percent fewer Core 40 graduates and 4 percent fewer Honors diploma graduates needed remedial coursework.
The key to economic stability in today’s world economy is a postsecondary education, be it a four-year bachelor degree, two-year associate degree or training in a trade. And that message appears to be filtering down to Hoosier high-schoolers.