As we have mentioned repeatedly lately, Senator Del Marsh has declared war on the Alabama College & Career standards.

Why?  He says it is because Alabama students are going backwards and we have to blame it on something.  (Even though he admitted to a principal this week that he has no clue what any of our standards are.)

Widespread rumor says that Marsh hopes to run for the U.S. Senate in 2020 and this latest move is nothing but political pandering.  Among those taking Marsh to task for this move are three retired Army generals in Huntsville who called it “crazy.”  (An extremely well-connected political type in Huntsville told me this week that if Marsh does run for Senate, he can kiss Huntsville goodbye because of his stance on standards.)

The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama is highly-respected and puts out a lot of info about education in Alabama.  Politicians love to quote them.  In fact, Marsh referred to PARCA in a “talking points” memo about why we should repeal ACCR.

But he has been so dog gone busy that he apparently failed to note that PARCA has just released info showing the number of college freshman from Alabama public schools who need remediation in math and English has been dropping in recent years.  Of course, this kind of news shoots a hole in the senator’s argument that with our present standards we are going to Hell in a hand basket.

Here is the PARCA release of March 27:

The percentage of first-time college students assigned to remedial education before embarking on college courses continues to drop, according to the latest data provided by the Alabama Commission on Higher Education (ACHE).

“The data follows Spring 2017 graduates of Alabama high schools who enrolled at Alabama public colleges in the fall after graduation. The data indicate that 28 percent of those who enrolled in higher education were required to take a course in either remedial math or remedial English or both.

A remedial course is designed to bring students up to the educational level needed to succeed in a college course. That percentage needing remediation is down from 34.6 percent in 2011. This drop in remedial rates is occurring at a time when high schools have driven up graduation rates and have sent additional students to college.

Remediation rates are calculated for two subjects: math and English. The most progress has been made in decreasing the percentage of students having to take remedial English. In 2017, the percentage of students needing remedial courses in English dropped to 14 percent, down from 17 percent in 2013.

The percentage of enrolled students taking remedial math also declined to 24 percent in 2017, compared to 26 percent in 2013.”

PARCA adds:

“The continuing progress on rates of remedial education is noteworthy since it has come during a period in which high schools are charting higher graduation rates. Those higher graduation rates have prompted concern that, in some instances, schools might be lowering standards for graduation in order to show higher graduation rates. However, this data suggests that the students who are going on to college are entering better prepared.”

So PARCA says one thing, Del Marsh says the opposite.  How could this be?  Maybe it is because no one at PARCA is running for statewide office.