School remedial audit reveals systemic shortcomings in KS school system

A recently released state audit found that about one-third of Kansas high school graduates have taken at least one remedial course in college. High school and college educators mostly cite shortcomings in the public education system as driving the need for development education courses in colleges, but the Department of Education has declined to respond to the findings. .

The Kansas Legislative Post-Audit Division (KLRD) released a limited scope audit on March 7 during a K-12 House Budget Committee hearing. It was designed to answer this question: what are stakeholders saying about the need for refresher courses at the college level?

The auditors sent surveys to 342 post-secondary instructors who teach development education courses, and 144 responded. They also sent surveys to 11,547 high school teachers, principals and guidance counselors, and 1,559 responded.

The audit finds that “just over 11,000 Kansas high school graduates were enrolled in at least one development education course” in the 2019-20 academic year (the year before COVID). For perspective, that’s about one-third of all high school graduates in Kansas, and that’s only counting graduates who enrolled in a development education course. Much more likely to need remedial training given state assessment showed 77% of 2019 graduates needed some degree of remedial math training when they were in grade 10, and 71% needed remedial English training.

Respondents to the post-secondary survey cited several important factors justifying the need for upgrading courses. The fact that students have been out of high school for a considerable length of time is the main factor they cite, with 63% calling it a major factor and 29% saying it is a minor factor. The other factors cited by the audit directly reflect the public school system.

  • The student is not a native English speaker and still needs language support – 49% significant and 41% minor.
  • Student did not take appropriate courses in high school – 43% significant and 44% minor.
  • High school content is not adequate to prepare students for college-level courses – 43% major and 44% minor.
  • State high school graduation requirements do not adequately prepare students for college – 34% significant and 49% minor.

The most critical factor cited by high school survey respondents is the lack of home school support (69% significant, 28% minor). Their other observations are similar to those of post-secondary participants, though perhaps even more damning concerns about the public school system.

  • The student received passing grades without mastering the content – 65% significant and 30% minor.
  • Student did not take appropriate high school courses – 50% significant and 43% minor.
  • High school course content is not adequate to prepare students for college courses – 31% significant and 50% minor.
  • Student had special needs that were not adequately accommodated in high school – 23% significant and 55% minor
  • State high school graduation requirements do not adequately prepare students for college – 20% significant and 47% minor.

Committee Chair Kristey Williams said, “Data on outcomes, whether students can read and do basic math at the grade level, should be at the forefront of school boards‘ concerns when allocating their funds. Ensuring teachers have what they need in the classroom should be the top priority.

Mike McShane is with EdChoice, which promotes school choice initiatives in Kansas and elsewhere: “Student progress is determined by a host of factors inside and outside of school that vary wildly from community to community. other. It is important that schools and systems are flexible to meet the different needs of young people. Unfortunately, many of our school systems are simply too rigid and don’t allow students the time and space to get the lessons they need when they need them. A more flexible, choice-based system could help better connect students with the courses they need to take to succeed after high school.

Blake Flanders, president and CEO of the Kansas Board of Regents, proposed that his organization’s Council on the Future of Higher Education make a recommendation for policy makers: “The Council recommends that the Kansas Board of Regents implement/promote remediation of the system-wide corequisites in Mathematics and English. Concurrent Remediation allows students who need extra support in college-level math and English to enroll in these credit courses and receive additional help. In most cases, students take an additional support course paired with the traditional college course or attend additional lab sessions.

The Kansas Department of Education had no comment. A response was not required because the audit made no recommendations, but the reluctance to correct systemic deficiencies is not surprising. Last year, KSDE officials were caught trying to lower the standards to make the results appear to be much higher.

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