College and High-School Educators Still Disagree Over Students’ Preparedness

The gap in what students are expected to know between high school and college is often thought to be vast. A newly released survey quantifies just how wide it is.

Eighty-nine percent of high-school instructors described the students who had completed their courses as “well” or “very well” prepared for first-year, college-level work in their discipline. But only about one-quarter of college faculty members said the same thing about their incoming students. The gap was similar when the survey was last conducted, in 2009.

“This suggests a continuing lack of curricular alignment between the K-12 and postsecondary education systems that may be hampering the efforts of K-12 to prepare students for life after high school,” wrote the authors of a report on the ACT National Curriculum Survey, which was released on Wednesday.

ACT Inc., the testing company, surveys instructors at the postsecondary level and below every three to five years. The new survey is based on data collected in 2012.

Instructors’ skepticism of new policies and of student preparedness tended to grow as the age of their students increased, the survey found. For instance, while a majority of instructors teaching at all levels of the education system described their students as having adequate reading skills, college educators did so less often than did the rest; 71 percent reported that between half and all of their students had left their courses with grade-appropriate reading comprehension. In contrast, 96, 88, and 75 percent, respectively, of teachers at the elementary-, middle-, and high-school levels gave the same answer. <Read more.>

Via Dan Berrett, The Chronicle of Higher Ed.

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