College readiness standards called into question after low test scores in Texas


Christine Sanchez

A St. Edward’s student studies on the second floor of Ragsdale. College readiness, according to the ACT, SAT and its equivalents is measured by whether or not students meet or exceed the standard passing score for these college entrance exams.

When you search for the term “college readiness” on Google, the first result is the website for the Scholastic Achievement Test, or the SAT. Many people associate college readiness with this exam and other college entrance exams. But now, this subject is gaining popularity as test scores in Texas are dropping, and Texas students are going into college without being fully “ready,” according to their test scores.

According to a report presented at a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board meeting only 58% of first-time college students in Texas in fall 2018 were considered college-ready, meaning that they passed the minimum requirement of standardized testing such as the ACT, SAT, AP tests and other equivalents. The other 42% of students did not meet the standard requirements for these exams and therefore weren’t considered college-ready when entering college.

In 2017, the 85th Texas Legislature passed a law (HB 2223) to help students accelerate in their degree plans using corequisite courses.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, about a third of American students require remedial education when they enter college, and current college attainment rates are not keeping pace with our country’s projected workforce needs.

There are currently no known laws that are in place in Texas to help students advance in their courses similar to HB 2223.

Sophomore video game development major Cindy Navarro said standardized testing isn’t an accurate way to determine whether students will do well in college or not.

“Personally, I did good on the SAT, I met or exceeded the standard,” Navarro said. “But I feel like we focus too much on standardized testing. Just because someone doesn’t do well on the SAT or ACT, doesn’t mean they won’t do well in college.”

There are some programs in Texas schools whose goals are to help students achieve in school in preparation for college. One of these programs is GEAR UP, or Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs.

GEAR UP is intended to help students do well in high school and help them learn about different colleges they can apply to once they reach junior and senior year. Despite this push for college readiness in Texas schools, Navarro thinks it all depends on the person.

“You can score low on the SAT or ACT, but you can still succeed in class. One test should not dictate or determine a person’s skills or aptitude for a certain subject, even though that’s exactly what we do with these tests,” she said.

Navarro thinks that the term “college-ready” isn’t so much about test scores as it is about how well you perform in college. She affirms that high scores on college entrance exams don’t mean that students will also be highly successful in college.

“When I heard ‘college-ready,’ I thought, ‘Are you ready to live off-campus and away from your family?’” she said. “But in regards to education, I really don’t think it holds any merit. Being told you’re college-ready in high school, you’ll either think, ‘Oh yeah I’m totally college-ready,’ or, ‘Oh no, they lied to me, I’m not college-ready.’ It all just depends on where you go [to college] in the end. I feel like that’s a term we should stop using. I feel like it’s a sense of lying to students. It creates an expectation, in a way it is a false sense of security.”