House panel OKs remedial plan for high school seniors

Posted August 18, 2015 2:17 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2015 3:33 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Community College System would design remedial education courses for high school seniors to ensure they meet necessary academic benchmarks before graduating, under legislation advancing in the House.

Under Senate Bill 561, schools would use the results of ACT tests students take as juniors to determine whether they are prepared for college-level courses. Those who aren't would take the remedial English and math courses during their senior year, and bill sponsor Sen. Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, said they could earn both high school and community college credit if they succeed in the courses.

Barefoot said 52 percent of 2013 high school graduates statewide who enrolled in community college were required to take a remedial course. The proposal would allow that catch-up work to occur while they're still in high school so they're prepared for college or a career upon graduation.

The curriculum would be put together by community colleges, but the classes would be taught by high school faculty, he said, noting the program is modeled on one from Tennessee in which 70 percent of students have passed and then gone on to community colleges.

Some lawmakers said they had received pushback from both local teachers and community college officials about colleges telling high schools what to do. Some people also feel the courses are redundant to remedial courses the colleges already offer, lawmakers said.

Rebecca Garland, deputy superintendent at the state Department of Public Instruction, told lawmakers that teachers are on board with the idea of raising the bar for students.

"We're trying to send a different message to our students: You have to do a high level of reading and math," Garland said. "There is an expectation. Without these skills, your job options ... are probably not guaranteed."

The bill passed the House Education Committee on Community Colleges on a voice vote and next heads to the House floor. It cleared the Senate in April.