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Massachusetts students unprepared for college despite 'record high' MCAS scores in 2013

There was "record high performance" on MCAS exams in 2013, however 40 percent of public high school graduates are unprepared for for college-level courses.

MCAS scores were at a 'record high' in 2013, state officials said. Photo via csmonitor.com MCAS scores were at a record high in 2013, state officials said. Credit: Christian Science Monitor

State education officials announced Wednesday that although MCAS scores hit a record high in 2013, nearly half of public high school graduates are not fully prepared for college-level courses.

According to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 40 percent of public school graduates enrolling in public colleges and universities in Massachusetts require developmental, non-credit coursework.

For instance, a student would have to pass an elementary algebra class before being able to take a credit-bearing college algebra class.

Remedial courses depend on the school, and vary across campuses.

As a remedy, education officials said they plan to implement new college and career ready standards and will develop a new system to assess skills.

But the key to preparing students for higher education may be as simple as empowering school principals to take more of a leadership role, according to Patrick J. McQuillan, an associate professor of education at Boston College.

"Principals should be instructional leaders and promote a sense of leadership among teachers, where they see themselves as the drivers for implementing high expectations for all students," said McQuillan. "That’s going to work better than trying to create more testing."

In the end, college students will bare the financial brunt of spending time and money on remedial courses.

"In many cases, the students don't get (college) credit, and that university is just making more money off those kids. College already costs quite a bit, so you've got to be ready to go once you get there."

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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