In recent years, the expressed goal of the education system has been to ensure that every child is college- and career-ready. That goal has enjoyed a measure of success, particularly as college enrollment rates rose from 26% to 41% between 1980 and 2012.

But landing a spot in college doesn’t necessarily mean students are ready for college coursework, a fact highlighted by a new report from Education Reform Now. According to the report, a quarter of college freshmen need to enroll in remedial courses to catch up. The authors explain:

“Contrary to common belief, remedial education is a widespread phenomenon not at all confined to low-income students or community colleges. It affects a broad swath of students, including those from middle-, upper-middle, and high-income families, as well as a broad swath of colleges.”

Unfortunately for students, taking remedial courses in college is not only embarrassing and discouraging, it is also painful financially:

“With an average of two remedial classes taken per student, the half million recent high school graduates and their families overall paid an extra $3,000 for skills and content they should have learned in high school.”

Statistics from The Nation’s Report Card only underscore the truth of this statement:

  • 62% of high school seniors aren’t proficient in reading.
  • 73% of high school seniors aren’t proficient in writing.
  • 74% of high school seniors aren’t proficient in math.
  • 76% of high school seniors aren’t proficient in civics.
  • 88% of high school seniors aren’t proficient in U.S. history.

With numbers like these, is it any wonder that students and families are having to waste extensive time and money trying to catch up to the college level?

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