College Readiness: Open to Interpretation

Once again, testing raises its confused head in Michigan…

Are our high school students’ ACT/MME test scores steadily improving, OR, are MI freshmen now bottoming out of college because of their lack of “college readiness”?  Because, honestly, where is the clear connection between improved high school scores and the need for college remediation? Hey —

Oakland Schools

Dr. Ernest Bauer, retired Director of Research Evaluation and Assessment Programs for Oakland Schools, wrote about this SAME test metrics dissonance in his still-fresh 2011 article:

Do We Know if Students Are Ready for College? Oakland Schools expert questions value of ACT’s “College-Ready” Benchmarks in predicting college success

EXCERPT: “The ACT College-Ready Benchmarks are too imprecise for high-stakes decision-making. In ACT’s study, more students who had been told they were not college-ready went on to earn an A or B in Biology than students who had been told they were college-ready went on to earn an A or B in Biology. To announce that only 15% of Michigan students are “College-Ready” is misleading – unless one begins by explaining that if Michigan students’ ACT scores were just like those of other U.S. students, the percentage deemed to be “College-Ready” could not be higher than 20% since one of the four Benchmarks is at the 80th percentile rank nationally.”

The Detroit Free Press explained the ACT/MME test standard simply in its article:

High School students show improvement, but readiness rate drops

EXCERPT: “The ACT says a student is college-ready if he or she scores an 18 in English, 22 in math, 22 in reading and 23 in science. Why those scores? That’s where the ACT says a student would need to score to have a 50% shot at earning a B or above in college-level courses in English composition, college algebra, social sciences and biology.” (Freep 7/7/14)

HOWEVER, this chart from Dr. Bauer points out the craziness of using this narrow metric to designate a slim band of students “college ready” – while overlooking very high-achieving students who don’t fit the exact benchmark…Oakland SchoolsChris Profeta, in the excellent blog post The Myth of College Readiness, calls on Lansing to measure “College Readiness” using metrics that are honest and accurately interpreted:

“While there is little that we can do locally to stop Lansing from setting up districts to fail by establishing a definition of college readiness and then measuring success in a way that does not do justice to that definition, we can control how we interpret such data and establish ways of more effectively judging the college readiness of our students.”

Yes! College Readiness doesn’t need to be so deliberately confusing. Why are current Michigan benchmarks standing in the way of student success?



2014 Michigan Merit Exam Results Show Long- and Short-term Gains in All Subjects from Michigan Department of Education (7/7/14)

These Days it’s All About Being College Ready: Reliable Data Show Fewer Michigan Community College Students Need Remediation Than National Average by Dr. Vickie Markavitch, Supt. of Oakland Schools (May 2011 – still timely)

ACT College and Career Readiness Standards


Blog Editor: Jean MacLeod, Communications/Oakland Schools


 Oakland Schools • 2111 Pontiac Lake Road • Waterford, MI 48328-2736 • 248.209.2000




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