If you set the bar high, people will rise to the occasion.  Too often, though, the high schools don't set the bar high, and the Distressed Material turns up at college, and now the house organ of gentry liberals recognizes (via College Insurrection, they read National Pinko Radio so I don't have to) that their donor base winds up paying for high school twice.  "When they attend private colleges, underprepared students from the top income strata are spending $12,000 extra to study things they should have learned in high school."  That's why I'm so enthusiastic about Wisconsin requiring universities to keep track of the sources of Distressed Material.  Perhaps a few more dollars into the science club, and a few more news reports about the chess team, and less spending on athletic facilities and coverage of sports is in order.  What people celebrate they get more of.
"Because of underpreparation and poor performance, we're seeing people having to pay more for college," says [Education Reform Now's Michael] Dannenberg. "High school policy changes could make college more affordable. And higher ed policy changes could promote better rigor and academic preparation in high school."

Another, not necessarily contradictory, interpretation of the data is that remedial education is simply inefficient.

"Students are 75 percent less likely to complete college if they have to take a remedial course," says Mary Nguyen Barry, the report's other co-author. "It's making college a poor value proposition for many families because there's such a high dropout rate."
Inefficiency persists as long as there are no incentives to remove the inefficiencies.  The status quo continues not to work.  The incentives are present, if the universities would but provide them.

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