Grant to prepare students for college

More than 10,000 students attending public colleges in Indiana require remediation for mathematics and English, according to Indiana’s Education Roundtable.

Only one in four of those students will graduate in six years.

Now, Indiana universities will receive $36,000 from the “Core to College” grant, funds intended to establish relationships between higher and K-12 education.

Students take remediation courses when they are not ready for college-level, credit-bearing coursework.

Stephanie Sample, communications director for the Indiana Department of Education, said part of the reason some students aren’t ready is because K-12 schools and post-secondary schools don’t have a shared definition of readiness.

“One of the main missions is to bring them to the table,” Sample said. “It’s to unite them in that definition.”

The participating Indiana colleges, including Indiana State University, IU-Purdue University Columbus and Purdue University Calumet, will cooperate with community colleges and local schools.

Once a shared definition has been achieved, new tests for readiness will be developed and implemented.

Alice Anderson, dean of the school of education at Purdue University Calumet, said a test designed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers might be a possible solution.

“If we can measure what we need to measure, the PARCC assessment will be able to determine if students are ready,” she said.

Sample said the assessment would track a student’s progress through K-12, something the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress assessment (ISTEP) doesn’t do.

Currently, Indiana public universities require freshmen students to take readiness assessments that are developed by their respective faculty.

Anderson said a test like the PARCC assessment might be administered in high school.

She said that way students who are ready for college could avoid redundant testing, and those who are not ready could avoid remediation.

Sample said the DOE might have students take remediation coursework in high school before they graduate.

Public universities in Indiana like IU-Bloomington and Purdue University in West Lafayette don’t offer remediation.

Anderson said most students take those non-credit-bearing courses at community colleges like Ivy Tech Community College.

Remediation costs students, taxpayers and institutions about $35 million each year, according to a 2012 report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Sample said extra time is the enemy of completion.

Establishing relationships between K-12 and post-secondary schools is critical in aligning policies, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said in a press release.

“In Indiana, we are committed to forming more productive and coordinated K-12/higher education partnerships like these that support students’ success throughout their lives,” Bennett said.

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