Editorials

SUN HERALD | Editorial: Mississippi students should be ready for college from the start

TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDStudents watch Billy Collins reading some of his poetry in class at USM Gulf Park this month.
TIM ISBELL/SUN HERALDStudents watch Billy Collins reading some of his poetry in class at USM Gulf Park this month. SUN HERALD

Not all high school graduates who want to go to college are ready for the classes they encounter. That doesn't sound like an adequate education. That needs to change.

We're glad colleges and universities offer remedial classes to get those students up to speed, but we would rather Mississippi's high schools turn out college-ready students.

At Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, almost a third of all 2015 graduates started out as a "developmental student," which means they took a developmental, or remedial, course at the beginning of their careers, the Sun Herald's Regina Zilbermints reported last week. And it's not just Mississippi. Nationwide, about a third of high school graduates aren't fully prepared for college.

Some of those students are returning to school after years and just need to brush up on English and math. We understand. And we acknowledge the development courses work.

All students, whether high school graduates or "nontraditional," who complete remedial programs do as well or better than their peers in traditional classes.

But starting out in a development program can be costly. Students in those classes usually don't get credit for them and that increases the amount of time they'll spend earning a degree.

And in college, time is money. Some students probably are going to decide it's not worth the extra expense and quit. That's a shame.

"If you look at the stats, every time a student enrolls in a developmental class, the chances of them finishing college on time drop and some may not finish at all," Jean Massey, the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Education's office of secondary education, told Zilbermints. "It's about the ability to complete college and do it on time and about not spending money for courses that do not count toward graduation."

The Education Department said it is increasing the rigor of high school classes. And it is launching a new program to give students who score between 15 and 18 on the ACT during their junior year a chance to take special math or English courses.

We hope those programs succeed.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.

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