I heard about this while exercising this morning:

First, the bad news: Nearly 75% of 2013 high school graduates who took the ACT college readiness exam aren’t fully prepared for college, according to a new report by the organization that administers the test.

Now, the (moderately) good: Student performance has improved slightly since 2009, when just 23% of high school graduates tested met all four of the exam’s benchmarks for college readiness, compared with 26% this year.

The report, out Wednesday from the ACT, shows that American high school students are making slow progress toward college readiness and raises concerns about whether they’ll have the skills necessary to fill jobs in the future, said Jon Erickson, president of educational division of the ACT.

If you’d like to read the whole article from the Wall Street Journal, click here.  But be warned, it is apologetic of the situation and tends to minimize the significance of the results.


It would be very easy to wring our hands and say this is proof that the public education system is inadequate.  Maybe.  I don’t know if I am ready to cede that point just yet, however I admit that my experiences as a parent has revealed a bloated bureaucratic mess more concerned with ‘fairness’ and ‘sameness’ than with excellence and learning.  Yet that is not what this article in the WSJ or these numbers are really about.  Here is some Greenbean analysis.

1.  More people take the test now than ever before, yet college is not for everyone.  I don’t blame people for trying–I encourage people to always pursue a dream, but in analyzing the numbers we must realize that when the amount of test-takers increases as they have over the past two decades it should be expected that many who are taking the test are not prepared for college because they do not have the temperament to succeed in an academic environment.   Trust me, people who go to college are not better than those who do not, they simply have a different skill set.  Many of the greatest, happiest, and most successful people I’ve ever met never went to college and taking an ACT (or SAT) test would have shown ‘unpreparedness’ for college.

2.  This report does what everyone does–it falsely associates college with jobs and the job market.  Let me repeat once again that college is not about jobs.  If a person goes to college in order to get a better job in life, then that person has missed the whole point.  I’ve been thinking a great deal about this lately because my oldest daughter recently began her freshmen year of college.  I do not want college to give her a better job.  I want it to nurture her mind and soul and expand her thinking.  That is what college is designed to do.

3.  Now, having made these two observations, let me add one more that puts things back on the education system.  It seems to me that many students view college as an entitlement, as the next logical step after high school.  People do not work hard for entitlements; they just show up for them.  When I was a high school student, I knew I had to work hard, study, prepare, and make certain I beat out other people who were competing for the same spots.  That forced me to be more prepared than the next guy or girl.  The spirit of competition in academics has been replaced with a spirit of apathy.  Why work hard to prepare when I am going to college whether I do well or not.  This spirit of “why bother” is more societal than educational and has infected most every aspect of our culture.  It seems to me that many students do not ‘try to do their best’ because that might ‘hurt someone’s feelings’ when they don’t make it.

There you go.  That is my analysis for today.

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