Editorial Comment: Area students more likely than most to be college-ready

Columnist Joe Nathan writes elsewhere on this page about an important report that the state Office of Higher Education has been three years late in updating.

While such tardiness is unacceptable, what’s interesting is how little attention the report received around here when it was last issued in January 2011. The report had some good news about the high schools in this area.

A big concern at the state Legislature is the number of Minnesota high school graduates who have to take remedial courses when they go to college. The remedial courses cost the students and their families extra money and are a waste of the college’s limited resources.

The concern, however, ought to be lower in this area than in other parts of the state. That’s because the report shows that area high schools are doing — or at least did from 2005-2009 — a better job than most of preparing their students to do college work.

Of the 432 public high schools listed in the report, only 55 reported that less than 30 percent of its graduates had to take remedial courses. In this area, Pierz Healy High School led the way, with only 21 percent, the fourth lowest percentage in the state. Holdingford was tied for 13th lowest at 23 percent, Swanville 22nd at 25 percent and Little Falls and Staples Motley at 26 percent were tied with eight other schools in 25th place. Only Royalton at 33 percent and Pillager at 34 percent were over 30 percent, still ranking better than a majority of state high schools.

The report is somewhat limited in that it only measures the percentage of students taking courses at state colleges and universities, but the assumption is that most of the students needing remedial help will attend a public institution, before paying higher tuition at a private school.

While no Minnesota high school graduate should need remedial education, it still should be somewhat comforting for area parents to know that their children are more likely to be prepared for college work than those in most areas of the state.

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