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Indiana's new high school report cards

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has just released fascinating new reports showing post-secondary information for Indiana

high school graduates.

The first reports are for the Class of 2007. The CHE news release

indicates the reports show the number of graduates who attended

college at each public college campus in Indiana, but the reports I've

seen for the Allen County high schools don't include that information.

They do show how many students are attending public colleges or

universities in Indiana, what degree they are seeking and a breakdown

by gender, ethnicity and high school rank.

The most interesting figures are for remedial coursework. The reports

show how many students had to take remedial college courses in math,

language or both subjects, broken down by the type of high school

diploma the student earned. Over time, it will be interesting to see

how many students who earned an honors diploma from a high school had

to take a remedial course in college.

Overall, the findings aren't too surprising. The county's parochial

high schools had the lowest percentage of students who required

remediation; the county's high schools with the greatest enrollment of

students from low-income high schools had the highest. Among Fort

Wayne high schools, North Side High School had the highest percentage

of students requiring remediation -- 64 percent of the 116 graduates

attending an Indiana public college or university. Bishop Dwenger had

the lowest -- 20 percent of its 163 graduates required remediation.

There are plenty of caveats to the data, of course. It shows only

students attending public, in-state schools. It's possible that the

top graduates at some schools attended independent colleges or public

universities out of state.

Still, information is a good thing. Teresa Lubbers, Indiana

commissioner for higher education, cautions in the news release that

"This is not about pointing fingers or assigning blame between our

K-12 and higher education communities. This is an opportunity to

acknowledge the extent of the challenge in each community and to begin

taking steps together to address it."

It probably won't end the finger-pointing, but it at least puts some

real numbers to the claims. About ten years ago, during a public

hearing on Indiana's proposed school accountability law, a college

official stood up to complain about the cost of remediating Indiana

high school students.

A high school administrator then stood up to respond. He told the

college official that remedial courses would no longer be needed if

colleges would raise their admission standards. Students pay attention

when they hear that an upperclassmen they admire can't get into a college. They

will start working harder when the stakes are higher, he insisted.

It seemed like good advice then and still seems like good advice

today.

Karen Francisco, editorial page editor for The Journal Gazette, has been an Indiana journalist since 1981. She writes frequently about education for The Journal Gazette opinion pages and here, where she looks at the business, politics and science of learning as it relates to northeast Indiana, the state and the nation. She can be reached at 260-461-8206 or by e-mail at kfrancisco@jg.net.

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