College literacy skills in a nutshell?

by Grace

Joanne Jacobs summarized incoming College Board president David Coleman’s view on what a high school curriculum should look like.

Coleman wants students to read challenging materials and learn to answer questions by citing the text, not chatting about their personal experiences.

That seems to describe in a nutshell the literacy skills that students need for college.

Coleman sees a serious problem with how public schools are failing to prepare students for college-level work.

…  He often cites data from ACT scores, which this year showed that only one in every four American high-school graduates is ready to do college-level reading, writing, science, and computation. He also refers to research by the Minnesota College Readiness Center’s Paul Carney, who found that almost a third of college students enrolled in his college’s remedial writing courses had actually earned above-average grades in high-school English. The gap was partly due to the different types of writing valued by high schools and colleges: while high-school teachers rewarded students for the organization and wording of their essays, college professors placed greater value on strong thesis statements backed by evidence from the curriculum. This mismatch of expectations helps explain why 20 percent of incoming freshmen at four-year colleges, and about half at community colleges, are assigned to non-credit-bearing remedial courses.

High school poster projects instead of writing instruction
In related news, one local high school student I know is working on her fourth “poster” project since school started about a month ago.  So far she has been aked to create a collage, illustrate a literary theme, and make posters in her English and history classes.  This school claims they focus on college prep, and their yearly spending per pupil is about $23,000.  Meanwhile, they have been sending out advertisements to parents promoting writing and SAT prep classes taught by their high school teachers at costs of $275 and $575, respectively.  Do their students need this extra tutoring because they’re spending too much time on poster projects in school?  I wonder.


2 Comments to “College literacy skills in a nutshell?”

  1. The SAT score data tables are at

    If you are looking for only 1 in 4, the combined SAT (just reading and math) is 1160, or 1720 for all three.

    But I think the report you are looking for is
    Among the high school class of 2012, 43 percent of all SAT takers met the SAT College & Career Readiness Benchmark. This percentage is consistent with that of the class of 2011, which also met the benchmark at a rate of 43 percent. The SAT Benchmark score of 1550 indicates a 65 percent likelihood of achieving a B- average or higher during the first year of study at a four-year college.


  2. Bonnie, I’m curious to know if you see any type of correlation based on your sample.


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