Friday, January 20, 2006

Literacy Gaps in College Graduates

I just read about a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. The study looked at the skills of graduating students and found that
more than half of students at four-year colleges - and at least 75 percent at two-year colleges - lack the literacy to handle complex, real-life tasks such as understanding credit card offers. . .
Three types of literacy were studied: (1) analyzing news stories and other prose, (2) understanding documents and (3) having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

Without "proficient" skills, or those needed to perform more complex tasks, students fall behind. They cannot interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization. . .

Almost 20 percent of students pursuing four-year degrees had only basic quantitative skills. For example, the students could not estimate if their car had enough gas to get to the service station. About 30 percent of two-year students had only basic math skills.

Other posts on the topic: EducationWonks has other links.
Dr. Sanity discusses it, too.
Inside Higher Ed has a post about the study.

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