Graduation from high school can be a hollow achievement for those who haven’t truly mastered the skills and subject matter to prepare themselves well for higher education.
Annually, about 10,000 graduates of Hoosier high schools need remedial help in college in order to handle the rigors of a university curriculum, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. That’s a distressing statistic.
A new law signed by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence puts more pressure on Hoosier high schools to stop rubber-stamping degrees and assure that students headed for graduation — and college — have earned their diploma and are set up for success at the next level.
The law will require high schools to identify juniors who are at risk of failing their senior-year graduation exams and to provide extra help for those students during their senior year. The idea is to give remediation at the high school level instead of providing it once the students have reached college. The long-term goal is that more of these students go on to graduate from college, which is a difficult task for students who start college already trailing their peers.
The importance of high school remediation is highlighted by a 2011 Complete College America study that showed only 9 percent of two-year college students who need remediation earn an associate’s degree within three years and that only 27 percent of four-year college students needing remediation get a bachelor’s degree within six years.
Graduation from high school is an important first step to a productive work life, but only if the diploma represents true academic achievement. When students who haven’t earned that diploma are pushed through anyway, the vast majority either fail in college or have to spend extra years, and tens of thousands of extra dollars, to get a college degree.
Indiana’s new law should help assure that Hoosier high school grads are indeed ready for higher education.