Only one in nine S.C. 11th graders is ready to tackle a college course load with success, according to the state’s most recent test results, released Friday by the S.C. Department of Education.
The remaining students – roughly 89 percent of last school year’s juniors – were not prepared to perform well in college-level English, reading, math and science courses combined.
The test results were on the ACT — a test, like the SAT, that measures a student’s readiness for college — that all S.C. juniors took for the first time last school year.
The results showed that, in individual subject areas, a majority of S.C. high-school juniors were not ready to take college courses. Students performed worse in math and science – subjects often cited as being critical for the types of jobs that employers need to fill most.
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According to the results, only 18 percent of S.C. juniors are considered “ready” for college science. Twenty-two percent are ready in math, 26 percent in reading and 39 percent in English.
Being “ready” means students have a 50 percent chance of earning a B or higher or a 75 percent chance of scoring a C or higher in first-year college courses.
The ACT scores give insight into whether students can handle the new technologies and skills required in the workforce, and the college-level education that students will need to get those jobs, said S.C. Education Oversight Committee executive director Melanie Barton.
If we've only got 11 percent that are coming out who are ‘college ready’ for all their courses, we've got a problem in South Carolina with the jobs that we have versus the skill set of young people.
– S.C. Education Oversight Committee executive director Melanie Barton
“If we've only got 11 percent that are coming out who are ‘college ready’ for all their courses, we've got a problem in South Carolina with the jobs that we have versus the skill set of young people.”
State lawmakers passed a law requiring the statewide testing. The testing is part of a push by education advocates and lawmakers to ensure S.C. high-school graduates are ready to succeed in college or take jobs that require math and technology skills.
Part of that effort includes raising the state’s S.C. education standards, which outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.
“We want to raise expectations of student achievement and ensure that our students have the resources to succeed,” state Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said.
Before this year, S.C. educators have not had an effective tool for understanding how prepared students are for college, Barton said.
Previously, high-school students took a state high school exit exam, a less rigorous test that did not gauge whether students were ready for college, she said.
Students who do not test well should get help in their senior year, Barton said. Students who perform well on the test can consider taking advanced placement or college-level courses, she added.
Testing SC students
In each subject area individually, more than half S.C. 11th graders scored “not ready”
English: 38.7 percent – Ready; 61.3 percent – Not ready
Math: 21.6 percent – Ready; 78.4 percent – Not ready
Reading: 25.8 percent – Ready; 74.2 percent – Not ready
Science: 17.9 percent – Ready; 82.1 percent – Not ready
In the Midlands
Percentage of high-school juniors who scored “ready”