Teaching ‘Grade 13′


More than a million college freshmen take remedial courses each year and many drop out before getting a degree. Grade 13 refers to the unprepared college freshmen that many untenured professors encounter who teach remedial classes for our nation’s struggling freshmen students. As the article below iterates, some professors have expressed their exasperation with statements like, “I didn’t get a Ph.D to teach Grade 13!” Or “I just don’t know how to teach these students. They don’t need college, they need Grade 13!”

The 2009 ACT College Readiness Report cites that only 23 percent of high-school graduates have the core skills to earn at least a C in entry-level college courses (English, mathematics, science, and reading). This means that 77 percent of all graduating seniors will need to be placed in one or more remedial classes. David M. Perry and Kathleen E. Kennedy of the article below state that “If an institution is going to admit students who have only a basic grasp of core skills and knowledge bases, then it has a duty to educate them to a college level… Recession or no, Grade 13 students deserve to be educated by instructors who are trained to teach basic skills.” More than 60 percent of students enrolling at two-year colleges, and 20 percent to 30 percent at four-year colleges, take remedial courses.

Important Questions to Consider:

How can we fix the disconnect that exists between public schools and higher education?

How can we hold educators at all levels (elementary, middle and high) accountable and give them the tools they need to prepare students for college and career success? What can we do to ensure that all schools have access to transition programs for these different levels?

How can we end the need for pre-college remedial classes so that all students are ready for college level work upon graduation from high school?


The Chronicle of Higher Education
December 13, 2009
Teaching ‘Grade 13′
By David M. Perry and Kathleen E. Kennedy

Like the cicadas of August, faculty kvetching about the lack of student preparedness signals the beginning of fall and the start of another school year, and now as the first snows silently fall, the drifts of final projects and exams only muffle the grousing. Besides mourning the passing of a golden age of student skill, however, faculty members are now registering a historic and demographic development: the advent of Grade 13. The promise of No Child Left Behind is manifesting in the shaky proficiencies demonstrated by today’s college freshmen. According to the 2009 ACT College Readiness Report, only 23 percent of high-school graduates have the requisite skills to earn at least a C in entry-level college courses in the four general areas of English, mathematics, science, and reading. That means 77 percent of all graduating seniors have serious deficiencies in one or more areas. Some institutions only admit students who belong to the elite cadre, but for the rest of us, those numbers confirm that we in academe are faced with a real problem.

To view this entire article visit www.chronicle.com

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