Let's get it right the first time
College affordability is very much on the minds of the high school class of 2013, as students head off to college and families deal with the staggering cost.
Sadly, a new report confirms the continuation of a costly trend: millions of those students will have to pay college course rates for remedial classes merely to get up to speed for introductory-level courses. Parents pay twice - once in school taxes and again in tuition - for basic proficiency in what students were supposed to learn in high school.
About 54 percent of all high school seniors sat for the ACT college entrance exam. The company reported that 31 percent were not ready for any college coursework requiring English, science math or reading skills. The other 69 percent were ready in at least one of those subject areas, but only a quarter were proficient in all four.
In his recent road trip that included local stops, President Obama laid out a strategy to increase the accountability of universities and students to help reduce college costs.
The ACT results, and other data such as high percentages of college students enrolled in remedial courses, also point to another means of reducing college costs and improving college students' performance - greater accountability at the elementary and high school levels.
That was the intention of the original No Child Left Behind program and federal standards that sought universal student proficiency 2014. That goal won't be met and ACT reported that composite scores on its test have declined since 2009.
Now, the administration regularly grants waivers to states, including Pennsylvania, to allow them to widely deviate from NCLB standards. Changing the measurement alone won't change readiness at the college level.
As the administration fine-tunes its college accountability proposals, it should include a renewed emphasis on producing students who are ready to learn at the college level, rather than waste millions of dollars on what they already are supposed to know.