Weekly Geeks: Quotes of the Day

When I read this headline America Spends Billions on Remedial Education, two quotes came to mind.

The headline is Louise Ash’s summary of an Associated Press article in US News and World Report … which is actually a collection of excerpts and an interview based on Diploma to Nowhere, a report on the Strong American Schools website.

I’ve pulled some quotes from the website about reading and education so we can see just how much has changed. The year (in bold) is the date of the quote. The date of the data analyzed is older.

Quote 1: Emphasis on Reading Achievement
1996: “Only 37 percent of high school students score high enough on reading achievement tests to handle adequately college level material—yet almost 70 percent attempt college-level work.” [“The Baccalaureate Game: Is it Right for all Teens?” Phi Delta Kappan, April 1996, p. 528-534]

2008: “…a new study calculates, one-third of American college students have to enroll in remedial classes. ” [“Colleges Spend Billions to Prep Freshman,” US News and World Report, 15 September 2008 (online)]

Quote 2: How Much Remediation?
2004: For the Fall 2000 semester, 28 percent of entering freshman enrolled in remedial coursework: reading (11 percent), writing (14 percent), or mathematics (22 percent) …Fifty-one percent of students who took any remedial reading enrolled in four or more remedial courses, compared with 31 percent of students who took any remedial mathematics. [The Condition of Education, 2004, National Center for Education Statistics, US Department of Education, full cite available]

2008: “Conservative analysis of the data on college students in 2004 shows that: 43% of all students at public two-year institutions have enrolled in a remedial course. Twenty-nine percent of all students at public four-year institutions have enrolled in a remedial class … 64 percent of students enrolled in remedial education had to take more than one remedial course.” [Diploma to Nowhere, Executive Summary, p.7, 2008]

Before we start blaming NCLB for this debacle, let me add this.

In spite of numerous reform efforts, higher standards, twelve years under Democrats and eighteen under Republicans, there has been no significant change in students’ reading scores between 1971 and 2000. [Jay R. Campbell, Catherine M. Hombo, and John Mazzeo, NAEP 1999 Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance, US Department of Education, 2000.]

Remember: These kids were entering college in the 1990s, 2000 and 2004. So they had been poorly served for at least 12 years before that!