Only four Tennessee public high schools are preparing students to pass basic academic courses when they go on to college, if their ACT entrance exams are the indicator.
The ACT is one of the most high-profile, high-stakes tests in the country. In Tennessee, a score of 21 out of a perfect 36 is one of the requirements to earn a lottery scholarship.
Students from Hume-Fogg and Martin Luther King magnet schools in Metro Nashville, Merrol Hyde Magnet in Hendersonville and Gatlinburg-Pittman in East Tennessee averaged ACT scores high enough over a three-year period to be considered ready for basic college coursework. Only 18 percent of Tennessee’s class of 2008 students who took the test met that standard, compared with about 22 percent of students nationally.
Education experts in the state and region say that’s more evidence of what they’ve been saying about Tennessee’s high school curriculum: It’s too easy.
“We see high school valedictorians who are forced to take remedial courses,” said Alan Richard, spokesman for the Southern Regional Education Board, a nonprofit network that focuses on learning in the South. “That means there’s a gulf between what high schools teach and what colleges expect.”