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College Readiness: Good News & Bad

February 23, 2011

The Detroit Free Press has a helpful tool for assessing college readiness of graduating seniors based on their ACT scores.  The good news is that two of Rochester’s high schools rank in the top 15 metro high schools in college readiness and the third falls just outside.  The bad news is that their percent of seniors who are college ready are 46.1%, 34.9%, and 28.6%.  Even though these numbers are in the top 10% of the state, they are still abysmal for an area that needs to be technologically adept in order to revitalize the economy.

The Detroit News compared graduation rate to Michigan Merit Exams for selected schools.  The Michigan Merit Exams include the ACT and other criteria.  Unfortunately, some of the other criteria, particularly in science, appear to be just as misleading as the current MEAP cut scores for proficiency.

How do schools rank in college readiness and how do their Michigan Merit Exams scores compare?  Find out by clicking Read More

First, here are the graphics from the Detroit Free Press showing the top schools for college readiness in the metro Detroit area. The great news is that two Rochester high schools ranked highly.

College Readiness

Next, I’ve compiled data from the Free Press, Detroit News, and the Michigan Department of Education regarding college readiness and Michigan Merit Exams. I’ve included the three Rochester high schools, state-wide averages for comparison, and the International Academy for us to aspire to.

CR = College Ready, MME = Michigan Merit Exams

School Graduation Rate CR-All CR-English CR-Reading CR-Math CR-Science MME-Writing MME-Reading MME-Math MME-Science MME-Social Studies
Rochester High School 98.0% 28.6% 72.3% 53.8% 54.1% 35.3% 62.7% 82.7% 79.3% 79.5% 91.6%
Rochester Adams High School 99.25% 46.1% 83.7% 65.6% 73.8% 52.2% 77% 87.4% 86.8% 82.5% 92.7%
Stoney Creek High School 96.41% 34.9% 76.5% 60.7% 60.5% 43.2% 69.8% 86.5% 81.5% 79.8% 93.2%
State-wide 19% 52.3% 38.4% 30.1% 21.4% 44% 65% 50% 58% 79%
International Academy 100% 73.4% 99.1% 89.7% 94.9% 78.5% 98.6% 100.0% 100.0% 99.5% 100.0%

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There are a few questions to be addressed.  First, should the goal be to have every child be college-ready?  Other countries have recognized that college is not the best choice for many students and have separate high schools for students on vocational or university tracks.  This allows directed education based on what skills will be needed in the future.  An engineer and a home-builder don’t need the same education in science and carpentry.  Shouldn’t we focus on making the best engineers and the best home-builders rather than making mediocre home-builders who know organic chemistry?  Perhaps the goal shouldn’t be college-ready, but life-ready, with each student possessing the skills needed for their chosen path of university, skilled trades, or other vocation.

Second, why are more students not college-ready?  In the Rochester and Rochester Hills community, approximately 80% of the adult population has at least a partial college education.  I would expect that similar numbers of their children will attend college.  However, only 34.7% of seniors in Rochester Community Schools are college-ready.  In the state of Michigan, about 60% of adults have at least some college, but only 19% are college-ready.  This low degree of college readiness helps explain why Michigan has the third highest percentage of college dropouts behind Alaska and New Mexico.

Third, what can be done to raise rates of college-readiness?  We need changes in the schools and changes in the home.  Students who want to go to college need to be supported at the schools with opportunities for college-preparatory classes with like-minded students who strive for similar levels of achievement.  This may mean opening more magnet schools like the International Academy where academic achievement is celebrated as strongly as athletic achievement.  This may mean that some English classes read Chaucer while others read Chilton Auto Repair Manuals.  Education should not be one-size-fits-all, but tailored to the needs of the student.  Great teachers must be retained, while failing schools fixed and poor teachers released.   Changes must also be made in the home and community to emphasize education.  Parents must be just as willing to support their children’s academic pursuits as they are their athletic pursuits.  Could you imagine if there was significant school funding and parental participation for science clubs?  The heroes of a community must include not just the sports and music stars, but also the physics and literary stars so that children aspire to be the greatest in those fields too.

There is much that can be done to improve college-readiness, but it starts with an attitude change towards supporting college preparedness, a realization that education must be differentiated to meet the needs of students who will be attending college and those who won’t, and a commitment to help our children in their academic pursuits.  And for Michigan to succeed, this must happen in every district.

Thank you for reading Rochester SAGE!
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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 1, 2011 7:58 PM

    I’m still drawn back to the point that Rochester’s graduation rate (around 98%) leads to college matriculation of over 80%. But only 34.7% of our 2010 graduates were ready for the challenge.

    I’m also amazed, despite the matriculation rates, that our school board had set the goal for 2010 at 40% College-Ready, and by 2014 to reach only 50%. Do you really want to take a 50/50 chance that your kids will be college-ready when they graduate?

    I’m also split; I think the idea of splitting classes into areas of interests (like your example of Chaucer/Chiltons) is a good one. But from personal experience, and reading some personal stories of others, I think having an understanding of biology, chemistry, literature, and math, are essential for being a well-rounded person and have a better understanding of the world around us.

    Rochester’s stated mission is to make students “College ready, career ready, and life ready.” Hopefully you’ll share more ideas like this, and we can see them get implemented!

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