Thursday, December 6, 2007

One More Compelling Argument For Accreditation

Study: Most college students lack enough literacy for common tasks

Nearing a diplo­ma, most college students cannot handle many complex but com­mon tasks, from understanding credit card offers to comparing the cost per ounce of food. Those are the sobering find­ings of a study of literacy on college campuses, the first to target the skills of students as they approach the start of their careers.

More than 50 percent of stu­dents at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two­ year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks. That means they could not 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 (from accredited schools) 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.

Most students showed inter­mediate skills, meaning they could perform moderately chal­lenging tasks such as identifying a location on a map, calculating the cost of ordering office sup­plies or consulting a reference guide to figure out which foods contain a particular vitamin.

College students do have superior skills, over the majority of adults across the nation, in searching and using information from documents. "But do they do well enough for a highly educated popula­tion? For a knowledge-based economy? The answer is no," said Joni Finney, vice president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, an independent and nonpartisan group. "This sends a message that we should be monitoring this as a nation, and we don't do it," Finney said.


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