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Survey: Nearly half of recent high school grads need remedial help in college

A statewide coalition focused on better preparing high school students for college and careers released a new survey that shows much work needs to be done.

Only one in three recent high school graduates in New York State felt "significantly challenged" by their high school courses.

Nearly half of those who went to college reported having to take at least one remedial course.

Those are a couple of the findings from the survey released by the New York Equity Coalition to gauge how well high school graduates felt prepared for college and the workforce.

The coalition of parent, business, education and civil rights groups has focused its efforts on college and career readiness, calling on state education officials to ensure all students have access to more rigorous courses that prepare them for life after high school.

The survey of more than 1,000 individuals who graduated between 2013 and 2017 showed:

  • More need to be challenged. Thirty-four percent said their high school expectations were high and that they were being "significantly challenged," while the majority – 52 percent –  felt they were being "somewhat challenged" in high school. Fourteen percent said they weren't really challenged at all.
  • College students need remedial help. Forty-seven percent of graduates who went on to college said they had to take a remedial course in at least one subject. That percentage was higher among graduates who enrolled in a two-year college.
  • Math is an issue. Forty-five percent said they wished their high school had done a better job preparing them in math, specifically.
  • First generation students are less prepared. Overall, 59 percent of graduates who enrolled in college said their high school education prepared them for the academic work in higher ed, but that percentage was lower among those students whose parents had not attended college compared to those that did.

"The results of this survey clearly show that New York State is not meeting the needs of its students, even by the standards set by the students themselves," said Heather C. Briccetti, president of the Business Council of New York State.

"These results mirror the concerns we hear from students and educators across New York – that high schools are not adequately preparing our students for the future and that we've erected artificial barriers to an excellent education," said Evan Stone, founder of Educators for Excellence.

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