The head of the organization that administers the A-C-T college entrance exam says Iowa and the rest of the country are in a “college readiness crisis.” Dr. Richard Ferguson, A-C-T’s chief executive officer, testified today (Monday) before the Education Committees in the Iowa House and Senate. Ferguson says “all too many students” fail to take courses that are rigorous, and they end up scoring lower on the A-C-T — and their performance in college stuffers. Next week, A-C-T will release a report showing what should be taught in math and science courses, because Ferguson says just calling it algebra doesn’t mean students are learning the right skills. “What we’re focusing on as much as anything is the fact that large numbers of students nationally and in the state of Iowa are not taking the courses, and not taking courses with the rigor that is needed to prepare them adequately for academic success in college or for that matter, entry to the workplace,” Ferguson says. Ferguson says expectations need to be set to make it clear to students they need to take tough courses in high school. Legislators have refused to set a statewide standard for high school graduation, letting local schools make those decisions. Ferguson says legislators need to set higher expectations for coursework in high school. “If you don’t accept it, we’ll see a deterioration of the readiness of our students in Iowa both for the workplace and for higher education,” Ferguson says. “That’s not a very good choice.” The A-C-T report — “On Course for Success” — will spell out what should be taught in high school math and science classes. That report will be released next week at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D-C.
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