12.5.08

WHERE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND BEGAN. Via Charlie Sykes, a Dallas television station's discovery of the state of college readiness.

This month 7,500 Dallas ISD seniors are expected to walk across the stage and make their families proud.

But what if we told you that 75 percent of the seniors headed to Dallas community colleges can't read above an 8th grade level, and others can't add or subtract?

Graduation is a time for feeling proud, but that might quickly change to frustration for thousands of DISD students like Gia Hollis come fall, when reality hits.

News 8 requested and received documents from the Dallas County Community College District that show, over the last three years, an average of 75 percent of the DISD students enrolled in classes took at least one developmental education course.

“My reading levels are so low, and I’m really not comprehending, and it’s really holding me back," Hollis said. "It’s taking me longer."

Hollis is in a developmental reading course at El Centro College. Developmental courses prepare students to take college classes. In the Fall of 2007, out of the 1,110 DISD students enrolled in Dallas community colleges, 810 had to take one of these courses.

“This percentage is much too high," said Dr. Joan Rodriguez, who teaches developmental reading at El Centro. In her upper level course, where we met Hollis, most students read at an 8th to 10th grade level, struggling to comprehend what’s in some newspaper articles.

“I get so frustrated," Hollis said. "Don't know why I wasn't taught those skills before coming here and having to be at this point in my life and start all over. It’s been very challenging."

”It's very frustrating ... for the students who come in here who say: ‘Wait a minute, you're asking me to do all this? I don't know how to do this. I don't have enough time to do this. I'm not used to doing this. I don't want to do it,'" Dr. Rodriguez said.

Dr. Rodriguez believes high school tests reward students for minimal knowledge, which won’t work in college where professors expect you to know how to read and comprehend complex sentences. She says college professors don’t grade you on whether you try, but what’s right.

The article notes the continued tension between teaching to the test and having the right kind of test, as well as the deleterious effects of calculators on math skills.

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