Fix K-12 math to boost college rate

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Illinois isn’t getting enough out of its community colleges, concludes a state report (pdf), Focus on the Finish. Four out of five students fail to earn a certificate or degree within three years, said Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, who visited all 48 community colleges in the state last year.

“We’re doing a good job of getting all types of students into the doors of community colleges,” Simon said. “But now we need to do a better job of moving them across the stage at graduation with a certificate or degree that leads to a good-paying job here in Illinois.”

Improving K-12 math instruction is critical, Simon said. Almost half of recent high school graduates test into remedial courses, often remedial math, the report found.

Simon recommends a three-pronged math reform package: (1) High schools should voluntarily require four years of high school math; (2) high schools and community colleges should partner to offer dual credit mathematics courses to all high school juniors and seniors; and (3) community colleges should redesign remediation to embed skills development into credit-bearing courses.

Simon also called for requiring community colleges to report student success rates and linking state funding to colleges’ success at helping students earn a certificate or degree or transfer to a university.

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