Miami first-years flout national test-score trend
Published: Friday, August 31, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012 01:08
As first-years at universities and colleges around the country wrap up their first few weeks of class, they are beginning to get a good picture of whether their high school education has adequately prepared them for this next phase of their studies.
National ACT testing results may indicate many students will find their high school education has not.
According to ACT’s ‘Condition of College and Career Readiness’ report in 2012, only one in four high school seniors met the benchmark score requirement in all four tested areas: math, English, science and reading. Almost 30 percent of seniors were not prepared at all.
Students’ strongest subject was English, where 67 percent met the benchmark score, indicating that they had a good chance of passing a college-level English course.
Fifty-two percent met the reading benchmark, math followed with 46 percent, and science trailed with only one third of students indicating that they were prepared.
At Miami University however, the outlook is less bleak, according to Linda Dixon, associate dean of Student Retention and Learning.
“We are a different caliber of institution,” Dixon said. “Those national trends don’t really align with the student population we have here.”
Indeed, if test scores are an accurate reflection of student preparedness, Miami University’s class of 2016 is in good shape, with more than 96 percent of students scoring above the national average on their ACT.
Scott Suarez assistant professor of Anthropology has taught a course in biological anthropology for seven years.
The course—a requirement for all anthropology majors—requires a strong grasp of the scientific processes of genetics and evolution.
While ACT reports that only one third of high school seniors are prepared for such a course, Suarez has found that these statistics do not necessarily apply to his classroom.
“From a biological background, I feel generally, they are very well prepared for this course,” Suarez said. Where students tend to struggle is in handling the volume of information they must know, but this is a skill learned in college, said Suarez, and not one needed before college.
One of Suarez’s current students, first-year Cheryl Corbett said she feels she has been well-equipped for the information covered in the course so far.
“I’ve taken zoology classes before so this is pretty repetitive,” Corbett said.
Such preparation is not common of the average ACT-tested student, but Miami students have shown that they are not average, according to Dixon.
“We have a very small percentage of students that find themselves in academic jeopardy,” Dixon said. For those that do, however, Miami offers tutoring and supplemental instruction services, as well as a variety of remedial courses taught at its regional campuses.
The number of students who use tutoring services varies from semester to semester, but the tutoring center had 1625 clients last fall and 1284 clients last spring, according to Jacqueline Walker, coordinator of Tutorial Assistance. Among the more commonly tutored subjects are math and business courses, as well as science and language courses.