County Evaluates College, Career Ready Data

NEWARK – New data reveals that just 35 percent of the students entering 12th grade in Worcester County are “college and career ready” when it comes to mathematics.

Sixty percent of those same students are deemed college and career ready in English.

While the numbers appear low, school system officials attribute them to new testing methods.

“Baseline results are always lowest the first year,” said John Quinn, the school system’s chief academic officer. “We expect to see a big improvement when we go through this cycle next year.”

According to Quinn, the College and Career Readiness Act of 2013 mandated that high school students take college readiness exams by 11th grade. Students who don’t qualify as ready for college are then expected to take remediation courses their senior year. The new law, Quinn said, is intended to help Maryland reach its goal of having at least 55 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 hold at least an associate degree by 2025.

“National statistics show many countries are surpassing the U.S. in terms of the percentage of adults that have some sort of post-secondary degree,” he said.

The College and Career Readiness Act is also expected to address the fact that remedial courses are required by two thirds of the students entering two-year college programs and a quarter of those entering four-year schools.

Quinn told the board of education that starting with the class of 2017, college and career readiness in Maryland is to be determined through scores on the PARCC, SAT, ACT, Accuplacer or AP tests. On the SAT for example, students qualify as college and career ready if they score a 500 or better on the math section of the test.

Incoming seniors’ scores on aforementioned tests revealed that 60 percent of students were college and career ready in English while 35 percent were ready in math. Quinn said the low math scores were a bit of an anomaly because this particular class of students had taken algebra before the PARCC was being administered. Because of that, many were forced to take the Accuplacer (an entrance exam used by community colleges) in 11th grade—two years after they’d had algebra class.

“We were scrambling to find a good test for them,” Quinn said. “From the reports I got many of the students felt they knew the stuff but slipped up because they hadn’t practiced in a while.”

Because ensuing classes will have PARCC scores, he expects the percentage of students deemed college and career ready to increase.

“Next year they’ll take the PARCC for algebra as they finish the course…,” he said. “We’re going to see a dramatic increase in the number of students college and career ready.”

Seniors who haven’t qualified as college and career ready will be required to participate in transition courses, which could include SAT prep, developmental courses at Wor-Wic Community College or supplemental tutorial models.

“We’re trying to determine which is the best option for the student,” Quinn said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.