Whether they choose to pursue an undergraduate education or advanced professional training, our nation's high schools are falling short in preparing students for the next stage of their careers. As leaders implement new benchmarks for promoting college readiness, SDAL has consulted with the Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics to identify emerging trends in student outcomes over the last half-decade.

Problem

Graduates, college instructors, and employers agree: our nation's public high schools are not adequately preparing students for the next stage of their careers1. Like many states, Kentucky has implemented a new set of policies to address this issue, establishing new performance benchmarks for college readiness in 2012.

Along with these standards, Kentucky adopted a complementary measure of educational effectiveness: a rise in college ready students is measured by decreased placement in remedial college courses. To assess the impact of this new policy, SDAL reviewed state educational data and identified emerging trends in student outcomes.

Methods

SDAL researchers used administrative education data from the Kentucky Statewide Longitudinal Data System and mapped the proportion of students in remedial college courses by school district over a five year period: 2009-2014.

To assess how these new standards affected different student populations, the team also explored changes in college readiness, divided by racial demographics. Accounting for differences in college readiness standards, the outcome was measured across time, before and after the implementation of the policy.

Impact

The team found that Kentucky’s efforts to prepare students for college have demonstrated some success. However, there are still improvements to be made, especially for minority students.

While there was a general decline in remedial college course placement from 2009-2014, educational inequality continued across racial demographics as white students were consistently awarded higher placements than non-white students.

References

  1. Peter D. Hart Research Associates. (2005). Rising to the challenge: Are high school graduates prepared for college and work? Washington, DC: Achieve.

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