Sunday, January 27, 2008

State approves college-readiness standards

The following is the Statesman's article titled: State approves college-readiness standards: High school graduates expected to be familiar with everything from grammar to quantum theory. Neither article discusses what role, if any, the End of Course requirements will play, which are also in the works. -Patricia

Texas works to increase college readiness

By Brandi Grissom | El Paso Times

AUSTIN - New, more rigorous education standards could help more students make it through college, said an El Paso educator who helped develop state guidelines meant to ensure that high-school graduates are prepared for higher education.

"I think it will help in the long run," said Mercedes Guzman, high-school science facilitator for the El Paso Independent School District.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board this week approved college readiness standards, which outline what knowledge and skills high-school students need to be successful in college or on the job.

In 2005, legislators passed a law that required higher education and public school agencies to align their standards so that when Texas students graduate from high school, they are prepared for their next step.

Studies showed that many Texas students needed remedial courses before they could take college classes, and business leaders complained that graduates weren't ready for work.

A report released last year by Gov. Rick Perry's Commission for a College Ready Texas indicated that half of all Texas college freshmen had to take remedial courses, compared with 28 percent of students nationwide.

"We will not be competitive economically, we will not be able to sustain a high quality of life in Texas unless we dramatically improve educational outcomes," said Raymund Paredes, Texas commissioner of higher education.

Standards the coordinating board adopted let high-school teachers know what college professors expect of students in

entry-level English, math, science and social studies courses.

The Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education must next approve the standards and plans to apply them in classrooms. Paredes said it could take four to five years before results of the new standards are evident in classrooms.

Guzman helped develop the science standards. She said the standards would be much more challenging for high-school students.

At first, the standards might be a shock, she said, but the harder work will pay off. "Whenever you start something new, there's a difficult adjustment period."

Students, she said, are less likely to get discouraged and quit college if they are prepared for the challenges.

And if students don't have to take several remedial classes before taking courses that count toward their degree, she said, they will save money and graduate sooner.

Pat Gomez has two children at Andress High School, a freshman and a senior.

She said she is not sure that her son who is about to graduate is completely ready for college and wonders whether instructors have to spend too much time teaching for standardized tests such as the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS. "In real life it's not about a test. It's about what you know."

Brandi Grissom may be reached at;

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