• First-year college students are required to demonstrate reading comprehension and writing skills and the ability to interpret and analyze complex text in college-level courses. Weaknesses in these areas affect a student’s success in a college English course and all other courses.

    Students taking college-level courses, including Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment, require remediation at a far lower rate (4 percent for Class of 2015) than their peers. In comparison 36 percent of their peers taking a College Prep English course required remediation in English.

    Twenty-four percent of the Class of 2015 required remediation in English upon entering college. All high school students are required to complete four years of English; however, students complete these four years with varying degrees of preparation for college courses. Nearly 40 percent of students in the class of 2015 taking a 12th grade college prep or honors-level English enrolled in college. Nearly one third of those students required remediation in English.

    Students must have access to full grade-level standards in literacy and writing regardless of whether they are in general, college prep or honors-level English, so they can graduate with a high school diploma that means they are ready for college. Districts and charters need systems to ensure students are on a path to interpret and analyze complex text by the end of 11th grade and to help students in need to attain these skills by upon graduation.

    Of the almost 2,000 students receiving a B or higher in their 11th grade college prep and honors-level English courses, only 486 students (24 percent) transitioned to a higher-level English course (Honors, Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment). 

    Questions for Educators and Policymakers

    Course Quality and Rigor:

    • Schools offer various course levels including general, college prep, honors and Advanced Placement. How do we ensure that students in lower-level courses access the full grade-level standards?
    • Course titles, curriculum standards, course grades and even high school graduation signal college-readiness to students and parents. How do we ensure that all students are given access to achieve proficiency and fulfill the goal of college readiness upon graduation?
    • Students receiving a C or lower in a course often have gaps in their mastery and understanding of the content standards . How are these gaps addressed from one course to the next, one grade level to the next?

    Measuring Student Readiness:

    • Are grades a strong indicator of student performance?
    • What message does a student receiving a B or a in his or her course send regarding readiness for the next level?
    • For students receiving a C or lower, what supports are available in 12th grade courses to ensure they achieve proficiency by graduation?

    Parent/Community Actions

    • Engage your student in reading activities. Read a book together and discuss as a family.
    • Evaluate your student’s homework and tests to ensure he or she is receiving writing instruction.
    • Encourage students to take the highest courses possible. Students should seek to stretch themselves as soon as they are ready.
Last Modified on June 3, 2020