Dr. Williams has them as usual.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, only 37% of white high school graduates tested as college-ready, but colleges admitted 70% of them. Roughly 17% of black high school graduates tested as college-ready, but colleges admitted 58% of them. A 2018 Hechinger Report found, “More than four in 10 college students end up in developmental math and English classes at an annual cost of approximately $7 billion, and many of them have a worse chance of eventually graduating than if they went straight into college-level classes.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “when considering all first-time undergraduates, studies have found anywhere from 28 percent to 40 percent of students enroll in at least one remedial course. When looking at only community college students, several studies have found remediation rates surpassing 50 percent.” Only 25% of students who took the ACT in 2012 met the test’s readiness benchmarks in all four subjects (English, reading, math and science).
It’s clear that high schools confer diplomas that attest that a student can read, write and do math at a 12th-grade level when, in fact, most cannot. That means most high diplomas represent fraudulent documents. But when high school graduates enter college, what happens? To get a hint, we can turn to an article by Craig E. Klafter, “Good Grieve! America’s Grade Inflation Culture,” published in the Fall 2019 edition of Academic Questions. In 1940, only 15% of all grades awarded were A’s. By 2018, the average grade point average at some of the nation’s leading colleges was A-minus. For example, the average GPA at Brown University (3.75), Stanford (3.68), Harvard College (3.63), Yale University (3.63), Columbia University (3.6), University of California, Berkeley (3.59).
The falling standards witnessed at our primary and secondary levels are becoming increasingly the case at tertiary levels. “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses” is a study conducted by Professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. They found that 45% of 2,300 students at 24 colleges showed no significant improvement in “critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.”
We’ve come to the point where that diploma or degree (even from Harvard) is just a piece of paper.
That Book he mentioned:
- In terms of undergraduate learning, higher education is “academically adrift.” While higher education is expected to accomplish many tasks, existing organizational cultures and practices too often do not prioritize undergraduate learning. Large numbers of college students report that they spend a very limited amount of time studying; they enroll in courses that do not require either substantial reading or writing assignments; they interact with their professors outside of college classrooms rarely, if ever; and they define and understand their college experiences as focused more on social than on academic development. Faculty and administrators, working to meet multiple and at times competing demands, rarely focus on improving instruction and demonstrating gains in student learning.
- Gains in student performance are disturbingly low—a pattern of limited learning is prevalent in contemporary higher education. On average, gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills (i.e., general collegiate skills) during the first two years of college are either exceedingly small or empirically non-existent for a large proportion of students. Forty-five percent of our students did not demonstrate any significant improvement in CLA performance during the first two years of college.
- Learning in higher education is characterized by persisting and/or growing inequality. There are significant differences in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills across students from different family backgrounds and racial/ethnic groups. More importantly, students not only enter college unequal; but inequalities tend to persist, or in the case of African American students, increase during students’ enrollment in college.
- There is notable variation in experiences and outcomes across institutions. While the average trends indicate that students are embedded in colleges where very limited academic demands are placed on them and limited learning occurs in general during the first two years of college, there is notable variation across students, and particularly across institutions. Students attending certain institutions have more beneficial college experiences (in terms of reading/writing requirements, meeting with faculty, time use, etc.) and demonstrate significantly higher gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills over time. We focus in particular on examining unique college experiences and significantly more encouraging learning trajectories of students attending highly selective institutions.