Johnny College Can’t Read
Or add. Report shows which high schools’ grads require remediation from UW System.
A new report says 61 Wisconsin high schools each had 100 or more of their June graduates enroll as University of Wisconsin System freshmen this fall, and details what percent of graduates from each of those schools needed remedial math or reading instruction.
It showed a big disparity: Only a handful of graduates from six of those high schools needed remedial math help. But more than 30 percent of graduates from eight other high schools needed that help.
Students pay for remedial programs, which increases their college costs and student loans, but they do not receive credit for them.
The report is a controversial backdrop to the raging debate between Gov. Scott Walker, DPI Superintendent Tony Evers, legislators, school district administrators and parents over how much to increase state aid to K-12 schools, and to the UW System, in the next budget. It’s also part of the debate over how to train the state’s future workforce.
State aid to public K-12 schools totals $5.25 billion this year, making it the most expensive program paid for with general tax dollars. State aid to private schools through the controversial School Choice program totals another $246 million.
A new law drafted by Republican Rep. John Jagler, of Watertown, required the UW System to publish the first list of Wisconsin high schools whose graduates had the most and least needs for remedial math and English.
Overall, the new report said 20,767 of June high school graduates – or about 35 percent of all Class of 2016 grads statewide – enrolled in UW System schools this fall. Of those 20,767, 18.4 percent needed remedial math, and 6.4 percent needed remedial English.
In a statement, Jagler called the gap between high schools “eye opening.”
“For the first time, we know what high schools these students come from,” Jagler said. “I hope the administrators in the schools that didn’t fare well will take a closer look at their courses and curriculum.”
“Many parents are surprised when they are told their child isn’t as prepared as they need to be,” the lawmaker said. “Knowing in advance that their school may have a problem preparing students for the rigors of college may prompt some parents to require their children to take an extra math class their senior year, or to seek out tutoring.”
Time to name names.
First, the best performers: The six high schools with 100 or more June grads on UW campuses this fall with the lowest remediation rates in both math and English, according to the UW report, were Memorial in Eau Claire, Bay Port, Memorial in Madison, Marshfield, Marquette University in Milwaukee, and Waunakee.
The nine high schools with 100 or more June grads on UW campuses this fall with math remediation rates of less than 10 percent: Greendale, Middleton, DC Everest, Muskego, Brookfield East, Verona, Wausau West, Whitefish Bay and Lincoln in Wisconsin Rapids.
And the poor performers? The eight high schools with 100 or more June grads on UW campuses this fall with math remediation rates of more than 30 percent were Westosha Central, 33 percent; Janesville Parker, 36 percent, Milwaukee’s Rufus King, 33 percent; Kenosha’s Indian Trail Academy, 31 percent; Madison LaFollette, 33 percent; Oconomowoc, 33 percent; Racine Horlick, 37 percent, and Nathan Hale in West Allis, 41 percent.
Of schools that sent fewer than 100 grads on to UW Schools, eight of the 10 – or 80 percent – of Johnson Creek High grads needed remedial math, according to the UW report.
And Milwaukee public high schools that sent fewer than 100 grads to UW colleges and had high math remediation rates were: Hamilton, 29 students, 65 percent needed remediation; Bradley Tech, 12 students, 66 percent; Vincent, 9, 77 percent; James Madison University, 13, 76 percent; Marshall, 12, 58 percent; High School of the Arts, 40, 52 percent; Milwaukee School of Language, 24, 41 percent; Pulaski, 13, 69 percent; Riverside, 87, 59 percent, and Reagan College Prep, 56, 42 percent.
Milwaukee private schools with high remediation percentages included Messmer High, with 12 of 28 grads — or 42 percent — needing math remediation, and Pius, with 54 students, 40 percent needing remediation. But only a handful of Marquette University’s 101 students now on UW campuses needed math or English remediation. Six or fewer of Wisconsin Lutheran’s 45 grads now in the UW System needed remediation, and that was also true for the 36 graduates of Divine Savior-Holy Angels.
Of all UW System campuses, UW-Madison had the fewest number – 20 — of its 6,430-member freshmen class that needed remedial math. UW-Madison offers no remedial English programs.
Evers had no comment on the new statistics.
But UW System President Ray Cross agreed with Jagler, saying the report on remediation rates should help high school administrators “evaluate and strengthen their efforts in preparing students for success.”
The new numbers should “foster communications, align the curriculum and reduce the need for remedial education,” Cross added, putting the pressure on Evers and high school administrators.