State education officials say a new report on college attendance and readiness among members of Kentucky's 2008 high school graduating class shows "substantial gains" but that much still needs to be done.
Some 63 percent of the 43,362 Kentucky students who graduated from high school in spring 2008 had enrolled in college by that fall, according to the report. That included 57 percent who entered Kentucky colleges or universities. That's an improvement over the class of 2004, 51 percent of whose students entered in-state schools, officials said.
The report also says that among 2008 Kentucky graduates who went straight to college, 38 percent needed remedial help to do college work, down from 45 percent needing such help in the class of 2002. The proportion of students requiring remedial help in 2008 fell in each subject.
The Kentucky College and Career Readiness High School Feedback Report for the Class of 2008 was released Friday by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority and the Kentucky P-20 Data Collaborative.
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The report acknowledges that, despite improvements, significant gaps in college readiness remain, particularly in rural and low-income areas of Kentucky.
Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education, said Friday's report is good news, but he struck a cautionary note.
"This report shows that we are making progress in the proportion of high school graduates choosing to attend college, and in the levels of readiness of students who enroll in college directly from high school," King said. "We are pleased with these gains, but we know that serious challenges remain.
"This report will help us identify where and how to make changes necessary to improve student success in the future. While we celebrate the improvement, we need to produce even greater improvement faster."
Dick Innes, an education policy analyst and a blogger with the Bluegrass Institute for Policy Solutions in Bowling Green, said that his analysis of the report suggests that improvement will need to come a lot faster. Innes said his regression analysis of the numbers shows that, at the current rate of improvement, it would take Kentucky roughly 50 years to eliminate students' need for college remediation in mathematics alone.
"It works out that we're improving at only about .515 percentage points a year," he said. "There is some slightly good news in this report, but there also is some cautionary stuff."
The report presents a somewhat different picture than data released by the state Department of Education in September, showing that only 34 percent of students graduating from Kentucky public high schools in spring 2010 were ready for college or careers. Friday's report on the class of 2008 looked at both public and non-public high schools.