Martha's message jogged my memory of another article that recently
appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education (Oct.27, 1995 p.B1 and B2)
that I wanted to bring to your attention.  The article is "Colleges Must
Keep Pace with Better-Prepared Students" by Janice Weinman, Executive
Vice President for Programs at the College Board.

Here are some quotes that will give you the gist of the article.

"I contend that, in the next few years, we will see growing numbers of
better-prepared, highly motivated students graduating from high school
and entering college.  These students will represent the first full wave
of graduates educated during the school-reform movement of the 1980's and

"Although colleges and universities surely would welcome the prospect of
enrolling better-prepared students, their arrival would just as surely
challenge the ways in which institutions educate and assess their students."

"Despite the challenges, colleges and universities stand to realize many
benefits from the changes occurring in the schools.  The first could be a
reduction in the need for remedial education.  For years, too many
high-school graduates have entered college underprepared to handle the
rigorous courses in one or more subjects.  As a result, they have been
placed in courses that duplicate material and skills that they should
have learned in high school.  According to a national study of
college-level remediation conducted in 1990 by the U.S. Department of
Education, approximately 30 per cent of entering college freshmen were
enrolled in a remedial reading, writing, or mathematics course.  More
than 70 per cent of postsecondary institutions offered remedial programs.
If high shcools do begin to graduate more students who are fully prepared
for college-level work, institutions will be able to revise and upgrade
first-year courses."

Are colleges and universities actually seeing a shift in the quality of
its entering students as this article and the N.Y. Times article claim?

These claims are not congruent with basic skills testing data recently
reported for the Pittsburgh area public schools.

Are discrepencies in what we may personally witness and what is being
reported indications of a period of transition?  Or is it that we are
seeing the beginnings of a widening gap in class distinctions, access, and

How detrimental could quotes such as the last paragraph above be to
funding developmental programs in the near future, especially given the
current battles in the federal budget?

I think that we, as professionals whose programs are at stake, need to
keep our eyes and ears open to such claims and determine the accuracy of
the information that is being reported.

Georgine Materniak
University of Pittsburgh