WASHINGTON, D.C.—A report released today by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) examines the urgent college readiness challenge: Too many students are coming to college unprepared, and the problem is worsening. Serving America’s Future: Increasing College Readiness, advocates a comprehensive approach to college readiness that pubic institutions can take to address this crisis.
The report is the culmination of work by the AASCU Task on College Readiness. Co-chaired by James Votruba, president emeritus and professor of educational leadership, Northern Kentucky University and Tomás Morales, president, California State University, San Bernardino, the Task Force is comprised of 12 presidents and chancellors from across the nation.
The Task Force found that measures of educational achievement in the United States show the country on a downward trajectory, especially when compared with achievement levels in other developed and developing countries. Further, the group found that American institutions devote too many resources to remedial education, and despite this, graduation rates are far below what the country needs, even when measured after six years rather than the traditional four; and too many students are leaving college without degrees but with significant debt.
While college readiness is often defined exclusively in academic terms, the AASCU Task Force determined that this definition is incomplete; its report recommends a broader definition that recognizes both non-cognitive and cognitive preparation. Therefore, it presumes that college readiness involves at least academic readiness, personal readiness and social support.
The report argues that if progress is to be made it will come through initiatives that strengthen education across the board—from early childhood through high school and beyond. “Our nation’s future depends on our capacity to strengthen student performance across the entire education continuum,” says Votruba. “The stakes are high and there’s no time to lose. By vigorously partnering with P-12 education, colleges and universities will serve not only a compelling national interest but also their own self-interest. This report offers university leaders a way to think about the college readiness challenge, as well as steps their campuses can take to help strengthen education overall.”
Research has shown that students living in areas of concentrated poverty—regardless of race or ethnicity—are, from an educational standpoint, significantly disadvantaged. As a result, the Task Force urges AASCU institutions to place special emphasis on college readiness efforts that target the 8 million children now living in areas of concentrated poverty.
The Task Force advocates that AASCU institutions work with community partners to implement specific college readiness programs. In addition, four specific initiatives should be on all AASCU campuses: strong teacher preparation programs; alignment between the P-12 and postsecondary curriculums; provision of timely and useful feedback to the high schools regarding the performance of their graduates; and availability of dual credit classes.
“America’s Future: Increasing College Readiness provides a roadmap for AASCU institutions to continue to partner with K-12 school systems in their region to increase the number of new entrants who are ready to enroll in college level courses upon matriculation,” says Morales.
In addition to the Task Force on College Readiness and its subsequent report, AASCU has partnered with the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) on a related college readiness project.
For more information about the report, visit http://www.aascu.org/CollegeReadiness.
AASCU is a Washington-based higher education association of more than 400 public colleges, universities and systems whose members share a learning- and teaching-centered culture, a historic commitment to underserved student populations and a dedication to research and creativity that advances their regions’ economic progress and cultural development.