Recent high school graduates are unprepared for college - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Recent high school graduates are unprepared for college

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

A majority of spring high school graduates are at risk of not succeeding in college and careers, based on results of their ACT tests.

A study from ACT testing shows at least 60% of 2012 high school graduates are at risk.

That's because they only met benchmarks in two of the four subjects: English, reading, math, and science.  Only a quarter of students nationwide met targets in all four subjects.

In Iowa, it's slightly higher at 30%.  At least half of Iowa students graduated meeting national benchmarks in English, reading, and math, but just 38% were up to par in science.

This year's high school seniors were surprised by the numbers because they feel ready for life after graduation.  College officials aren't shocked by the statistics.

Sarah Mathers is a senior at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids.  While she struggles with math sometimes, she feels her experience at the school will prepare her for college next year.

"Teachers are always there," said Mathers.  "They tell you everyday you can come in before or after school."

Mathers has taken the ACT but her results weren't counted in a study just released by the nonprofit. It showed a majority of last year's graduating class got their diplomas but weren't ready for college and careers.

The news isn't surprising to officials at Kirkwood Community College.

"In the 30 years I've been in community college education, we've seen increasing numbers of students that are not prepared in the core areas," said Bill Lamb, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Kirkwood.

In an effort to help improve college readiness, Kirkwood has grown its opportunities for high school students, allowing them to take classes on campus.

"Just having that successful experience gives them the, kind of the positive mindset that they can go on," said Lamb.

As far as some Prairie High School students are concerned, high school graduates who are unprepared for college just didn't take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

"I think that if you do what you're supposed to be doing in high school, that it should prepare you for college," said high school senior Gabrielle Armstrong.

Kirkwood officials say students need to take advantage of concurrent enrollment opportunities. They also think it would be helpful if students were evaluated for college readiness earlier in their academic careers.

Officials with ACT also recognize the importance of early monitoring.  That's why they're launching a new "next generation" assessment system.  It will start monitoring students in elementary school.

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