Students & Parents | College Admissions

State’s schools must demand more of themselves

BOSTON GLOBE   |  March 30, 2011 by Michael Poliakoff

Letter to Editor re: “State board boosts math requirement” (Metro, March 23):

Massachusetts recently announced that, starting in 2016, state colleges and universities will only admit high school graduates with four years of math. The current minimum is three years. This is a good start, and it follows the lead of schools in states such as Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Kansas that recently have increased standards for university admission. By encouraging underprepared students to remediate academic deficits, the Commonwealth is setting students up for success, while saving them, their families, and the taxpayers significant amounts of money.

But colleges must demand academic excellence of themselves. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy indicates that too many college graduates are sorely lacking in computational skills. This is not surprising, since higher-education institutions across the country, including some in Massachusetts, don’t demand these skills.

Several campuses don’t require students to take any genuine college-level math classes. Math isn’t all that’s neglected. Of the 11 state higher-education institutions reviewed in “What Will They Learn?”, a study of more than 700 college core curricula that I direct, none requires economics or a survey of literature; at only two schools do all students study American government or history, and at only one is there a requirement for foreign language at an intermediate level.

It’s time for the trustees of these schools to practice what they preach, and enforce standards. That’s what’s best for students.


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