Admissions letters from the University of Washington are in the mail this week but the majority of the envelopes families will be opening contain bad news. Of the more than 24-thousand potential freshmen who applied to the UW this year, only about 56-hundred are being accepted.
All of those who applied are evidently college bound. Whether they get into the UW or another college, we can assume because they applied that they want to enroll in some form of higher education. The issue becomes their degree of readiness and that, in some cases, shows the disconnect between graduation requirements in Washington State and what it takes to get into college.
To get a high school diploma in Washington, students are required to take 2.5 credits of social studies (including U.S. and Washington State history) and 1 credit of visual/performing arts. They are not required to take a foreign language. To get into a state college (NOT the University of Washington), a student must have taken at least three years of social studies and two years of a foreign language. To get into what's called a "highly selective college" (including the UW), a student must have taken at least three credits of social studies, but preferably more (the UW requires 4 social studies credits, Harvard asks for 5). Highly selective schools also require 3-to-4 world language credits. Additionally, both the UW and Washington State University require three years of higher level math and recommend that students take a fourth. The state currently only requires two years of math to graduate. For those students graduating in 2013, three math credits will be required.
Last week the Seattle School District issued a release touting an increase in the number of its graduates who are college ready.
Well, not exactly.. What the district did was change the way they determine what constitutes college readiness.
In November, the district released figures indicating that only 46-percent of its graduates were ready for college. When they reported those figures, they were based on nine different factors including: Language Arts (English), Math, Social Studies, Science, World Languages, Fine Arts, a minimum grade point average of 2 (try getting into the UW with that!), SAT/ACT scores and three annual credits. Now the district indicates 63-percent of its graduates are college ready.
Phil Brockman, Executive Director of Seattle Public Schools, said, "The shift from 46-percent to 63-percent does not mean that suddenly more students are ready for college, but instead shows a change that more accurately reflects college readiness."
Regardless of the change, what constitutes college ready for the Seattle School District doesn't necessarily reflect the minimum requirements at the University of Washington. For an updated look at how each Seattle School is doing click here.
This all reminds me of a comment Bill Gates made to the Washington Learns Summit in 2006, "In Washington and other states, we learn about students who don't fulfill their promise - not because they fail at school, but because our schools fail them."