Patton: College readiness key; high schools must step up

Scott Wartman

The celebration of Northern Kentucky Education Week at Northern Kentucky University culminated Thursday, Nov. 15, with a visit from Gov. Paul E. Patton and Barbara B. Stonewater, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Council of Partners in Education.

The theme of the week was “Go Higher,” taken from Patton’s educational awareness campaign that kicked off one month ago. The theme stresses the importance of post-secondary education in Kentucky.

The NKCPE, which was started two years ago, brought together area businesses and educators to address the problem of high school students’ unpreparedness for work and university study.

Stonewater said the council works to better prepare students by breaking down barriers, opening doors and creating a seamless web to achieve the highest education level possible for all students.

A seamless web, as explained by Gail Wells, dean of arts and sciences, means that if they have a high school degree, they are prepared to go to college, regardless if that is their plan or not.

According to Wells, statistics show almost everybody seeks either college or technical school or some post-secondary education eventually.

Many students coming out of high schools in Kentucky don’t have the necessary math and English skills needed to get by in college. Wells said taking remedial classes at the university level is costly, postpones graduation and is discouraging to students because they get no credit.

As part of the effort to better prepare students, the NKCPE devised a math test for high school juniors to assess if they were ready for college. Based on the students’ score, they would know if they needed to take a senior-level math course.

Wells said the test was so successful, Ky. enacted a law that this test had to be available to any student wishing to take it. It is now available across the entire state.

The success of the NKCPE caught the attention of the governor and now there are councils all across the state. Northern Kentucky is one of 10 model communities in the Governor’s Go Higher education campaign.

“There’s too much remediation going on after high school,” Patton said in his address at NKU. “We have to make sure high school staff and students know what colleges are going to expect of them. And we have to make sure colleges understand how it is that they produce, in particularly their teacher colleges, teachers that know how to get the job done efficiently.”

Patton stressed the efficiency of education must improve in both quantity and quality. The goal, he said, is to get Kentucky to the national average of numbers of students participating in post-secondary education and to get there will require a 50 percent increase.

Patton also stated there will not be a 50 percent increase in appropriations, which means more efficiency is needed.