The Great Education Divide
Parents representing all ethnic groups must make education Priority No. 1
The College Board, a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity, annually administers the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The SAT is comprised of two main assessment sections: Math and Reading, and Writing. A maximum score of 800 can be achieved for each section.
Each assessment section (Math, Reading, and Writing) has an associated set of metrics called the College and Career Readiness Benchmarks. The benchmarks provide a reasonable assessment to predict success in college level courses, defined as achieving a C grade.
The SAT Math benchmark of 530 is the section score associated with a 75% chance for earning at least a C in first semester, credit-bearing, college-level courses in algebra, statistics, precalculus, or calculus.
The SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (ERW) benchmark of 480 is the section score associated with a 75% chance for earning at least a C in first semester, credit bearing, college level courses in history, literature, social science, or writing.
The following data reflects the high school graduates in Connecticut who took the current SAT during 2019 academic year. If a student took the SAT more than once, the most recent score is reflected.
Nearly all of the students with SAT scores below the benchmark scores will probably earn a high school diploma. They will be college eligible, but they will not be ready for college level courses and instead be required to enroll in remedial and developmental math and English courses. High school graduates that require remedial education courses are very limited in their college choice with most choosing an open-access community college.
The success for students that require remedial education is not promising. According to the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, approximately 75% of the first-year students enrolling in a public two-year open access college require remedial work in English, math or both.
Data provided by the National Student Clearing House Research Center and the National Educational Longitudinal Study found that among students who take at least one remedial course, only 28 percent go on to complete a college credential within 8.5 years.
Researchers found that students who take remedial courses in their first year are 74 percent more likely to drop out of college. These students face drastically higher odds against ever of getting a college degree and are more likely to default on their student loans.
I fully understand research has consistently demonstrated SAT scores are strongly linked to family income, mother’s education level and race. However, I believe in the principles of probability. To attain result A (a high school graduate that is academically prepared for the rigors of college) rather than result B (a high school graduate that requires remedial and developmental education), if you do X (totally commit as a family and student to academic excellence), there is a greater probability of outcome Y (a high school graduate who is college prepared).
If parents want that better life for their child, they will need to assume ownership for the environment that will provide the better life. Parents can not pass the responsibility to others such as clergy and teachers to serve as a proxy for their responsibilities.
If parents do not pay attention to their kids and make education a priority, none of the systems –that includes elementary and secondary education and the community colleges — can make up for their lack of effort. That parents were victims of limited education and poverty is not a license to place their child in the same circumstance. I can be sympathetic, but every parent can get their child a library card from the public library, bring their child to the library, and access the many services including computers and reading programs.
The love of learning must start at home with parents. It is a parent’s responsibility to make education their priority over all other activities. It is a parent’s responsibility to set high expectations for their child’s behavior and learning and it is the parent’s responsibility to be a positive role model for the child in helping to shape their opinions and attitudes about learning.
Michael Gargano Jr. is the CEO of The Education Think Tank and past president of St. Vincent’s College and Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at the Connecticut State College and University System.
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