“Over 90% of New Jersey students graduate from high school with a diploma, but nearly half of all first-time college students must take remedial courses.”
In her Guest Opinion: College/career readiness conversation needs more voices, Elizabeth C. Giacobbe, superintendent of Beverly City School District, expresses dismay over the lack of communication among education stakeholders. She explains that our high school graduates’ lack of preparedness is just one example of the lack of voices in college and career readiness circles. For example, when interviewed, high school teachers generally feel their students are prepared for the rigors of college, while college professors feel that incoming students are ‘woefully unprepared.’ Admittedly, when probed further, neither know much about the specifics of the other’s standards and expectations.
While Giacobbe urges stakeholders to have more robust communication around college and career readiness, she reminds us that one important part of these conversations are assessments that give educators an honest picture of students’ abilities. She explains, “Although they [state assessments] are unpopular, these tests provide one important source of information about how students are doing. Unfortunately, some of our leaders are now proposing we go backward and institute a watered-down 11th-grade graduation exam that tests kids out of sequence, and without enough time for interventions that might keep them out of costly and time-wasting college remediation courses. We can’t let this happen.”
Instead, Giacobbe envisions “a New Jersey where college professors, military leaders, and employers are working together with teachers and administrators, parent and family groups, and policymakers to discuss what we all need to see from our kids.”
If high school diplomas are ever going to symbolize ‘college and career readiness’ in New Jersey, we must ensure that educators voices are being heard; to Giacobbe, this means more inclusive conversations around college and career readiness, and assessments that educators can rely on to drive student learning toward these targets.