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Our View: Ugly picture for education

Published: Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 11:03 p.m. CDT

“The readiness of students leaves a lot to be desired.”

That was the sentiment of Jon Erickson, president of ACT’s education division after the college-testing company released its annual report this week.

The report painted an ugly picture for the Class of 2013. It also speaks poorly for education in this country.

Some of the report’s lowlights:

• Nearly a third of this year’s high school graduates who took the ACT are not prepared for college-level writing, biology, algebra or social science classes.

• Thirty-one percent of all high school graduates tested were not ready for any college coursework requiring English, science, math or reading skills.

• Only a quarter of this year’s high school graduates cleared the bar in all four subjects.

• Only 5 percent of black high school graduates were deemed fully ready for life after high school.

• The percentage of students with reading skills needed to succeed after graduation slid from 53 in 2009 to 44 in 2013. Part of this slide might be attributed to an update in ACT’s benchmarks for success in reading and science.

• In English, readiness scores slid from 67 percent in 2009 to 64 percent in 2013. However, scores increased in math and science.

The report also found a gap between students’ interests now and projected job opportunities when they graduate from college.

The federal government estimates 17 percent of job openings in 2020 will be in education fields. Six percent of test-takers told ACT they wanted a job in education. Computer and information technologies will account for 11 percent of openings in 2020, according to the government. Two percent of students indicated they wanted a career in that field.

The ACT numbers are just a snapshot in a larger education-in-America picture. It should be a wake-up call of sorts.

So much is wrong with education in this country, from how it’s funded to how school boards spend money to standards we set for educating today’s youth.

We need to do better for the sake of our children’s future and our country’s future.

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