WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – More than 60 percent of incoming college freshmen at community colleges in Westchester are not ready for college-level work and must take remedial classes, State Education Commissioner John King told Westchester business leaders Wednesday.
He said at a meeting of the Business Council of Westchester in White Plains that the same skills students need to be college ready are also needed for entry-level jobs. He said he believes the Common Core Learning Standards can bridge that gap.
“Many of you have had the experience of interviewing candidates who struggle to communicate their ideas effectively. Common core tries to address that,” he said. “Common core is about the ability to read and analyze what you read and use information from what you’ve read to argue for an idea or take some action, another skill that’s often lacking in employees.”
John Ravitz, president of the Business Council of Westchester, said he hears from local businesses small and large that job candidates are often lacking basic writing and analytic skills.
“When you’re a small business you want to bring somebody in who is going to play a key role and wear multiple hats,” he said.
King said a lot of students who need to take, and pay for, what are essentially high school classes in college, they are not as likely to finish and don't get put on the path of career opportunities.
He cited a new high school model that puts students on that path in high school. It enables students to earn a high school diploma and credits toward an associate’s degree with access to mentors from a certain industry.
Saunders Trade School in Yonkers is one of 16 campuses that will replicate the model starting this fall, King said. It will partner with Westchester Community College to offer students the college courses.
This new model originated at a school in Brooklyn called P-Tech, which serves mostly low-income minority students. It partnered with IBM, the New York City Department of Education and City University of New York. Students are first in line for job opportunities at IBM after graduation, King said.
“It’s about trying to find ways to help students connect their high school experience with what they might do afterwards,” he said. “We need to do more of that, we need to think about not just about how we do that in particular industries but across fields.”