Sunday, October 15, 2006

South Florida teens: dumb as dirt

Edumacation: That might be a bit harsh, but they are not ready for college and money has to be spent teaching them remedial classes. The FCAT is a measure of how ready they are for college, unfortunately, given the unions and idiot parents, they have been trying to weaken that for years because its too hard for the babies.

Davie -- Most students entering South Florida's community colleges lack the basic skills they need to take college-level classes, forcing schools to spend millions for remedial work, statistics show. Eighty percent of incoming freshmen at Broward Community College and Miami-Dade College had to take at least one remedial class last year. At Palm Beach Community College it was 72 percent. "Where we ought to be heading is if students pass the FCAT, they are ready for college," said David Armstrong, community colleges chancellor for the Florida Department of Education. "Right now, that's not the case. There is still a gap." Community colleges have open admissions policies, accepting all students regardless of academic level. But students must first take non-credit, high-school-level classes in reading, English or math if they fail a college placement test in any of those three subjects. These classes can take up to a year and many students never finish them. Florida spends about $71 million a year on remedial classes, according to a recent study by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in Washington, D.C. BCC spends up to $21 million for these classes, but only about half of the students complete the remedial math course, while 60 percent complete English and about 75 percent finish reading. College officials said if students complete the courses, they are as likely as any student to earn a two-year degree. Florida students lose about $123 million in wages, because remedial reading students are more likely to drop out of college without a degree, reducing their earnings potential, the alliance says. This problem affects school districts and community colleges nationwide, according to the study, paid for by the MetLife Foundation. The number of students taking remedial classes has remained flat for the past five years, even as the state of Florida and local school districts have made efforts to improve accountability and rigor for high school students.
For the most part, these students passed the 10th-grade Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, an exam designed to ensure students have the skills they need to earn a high school diploma. To pass the 10th-grade FCAT, students must score a Level 2 on the five-point scale. But to pass the community college Common Placement Test, that isn't nearly good enough, according to a Florida Department of Education study. To be ready for college, students must score at least a Level 4 in reading on the FCAT, and a 5 in math, the DOE study determined. Fewer than 10 percent of students in the state scored that high on the FCAT. However, students often catch up. They take the FCAT in the 10th grade and take rigorous classes in 11th and 12th grades to prepare for college. A Level 2 FCAT score usually means the student struggled with the more challenging parts. A Level 4 means the student answered most of the questions correctly, except for the hardest questions. A Level 5 means the student answered most questions correctly, including the hardest.

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