Redefining College-Ready

The growing crisis of students arriving at college unprepared to do college-level work has led to plenty of finger-pointing between high school and college educators. But two community colleges have learned that better collaboration with local high schools may be the best way to dramatically reduce the number of students who fall into the quagmire of remedial coursework.

Long Beach City College has worked closely with the Long Beach Unified School District so it can experiment with using high school grades to help determine whether incoming students have remedial needs — a shift from instead relying heavily on standardized placement tests. And according to newly available data from the college, an initial group of 1,000 students from Long Beach high schools who were placed with this new method were far more likely to take and pass credit-bearing, transfer-level courses at the college than their peers the previous year.

For example, 53 percent of the group took transfer-level English courses in their first semester, while only 5.5 percent of students from the same high school district took the courses the previous year – meaning they were 10 times more likely to jump directly into credit-bearing English. And their passage rate of 62 percent was roughly the same as the college's typical passage rate in English.

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