Kentucky: Council on Postsecondary Education

Council on Postsecondary Education

Press Release Date:  Friday, October 06, 2006  
Contact Information:  Sue Patrick

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Developmental Education Task Force will review a study next week showing little change in the percent of students needing developmental education between 2002 and 2004. The study’s findings will inform recommendations to be released by the task force later this year.

The study, Developmental Education Update- The Preparation of Students Entering Kentucky’s Public Colleges and Universities in 2002 and 2004, measures the preparation levels of 26,087 first-year students entering public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System in fall 2004. Findings show 53 percent of entering freshmen in 2004 were underprepared for college-level mathematics, English or reading, a slight improvement over the Council’s first study which found 54 percent were underprepared in 2002.

“This report underscores the importance of the work of the Developmental Education Task Force,” explained Tom Layzell, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

The task force, appointed by the Council’s Quality and Accountability policy group, is expected to issue recommendations in December for implementation in 2007, he said.

Improvements in the preparation levels of recent Kentucky high school graduates, which comprised 62 percent of the entering 2004 class, were evident in study findings. The percent of recent Kentucky high school graduates underprepared in at least one subject fell from 48 percent in 2002 to 46 percent in 2004.

The study also showed improvement in the drop out rate for prepared students, decreasing from 20 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2004. Retention levels of underprepared freshmen remained static, and they continue to be twice as likely to drop out of college as prepared students, as close to 40 percent leave college during their first year.

The gap in preparation levels between KCTCS and university students grew slightly and math continues to be the subject area in which students are least prepared. The study also found a greater proportion of nontraditional students (adults over 25, part-time students or GED completers) entered postsecondary education underprepared.

Layzell said it is critical to increase the number of Kentuckians prepared for postsecondary education in order to meet the Council’s goal of “doubling the numbers” of baccalaureate degree holders from 400,000 to nearly 800,000 by 2020 to reach the national average.

To address the issue of college preparation, the Council instituted a mandatory placement policy in fall 2001 requiring remedial coursework or other extra assistance for all students entering undergraduate programs at public institutions with a score of 17 or below on ACT subject exams in mathematics, English or reading. The Council also addresses the issue through multiple initiatives:

  • Monitoring of ACT scores, advanced placement participation, preparation levels, ninth graders’ “chance for college,” and GED attainment
  • Participation in the American Diploma Project
  • Administration of the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grants
  • Revision of the Kentucky Adult Education curriculum to align with American Diploma Project benchmarks in English and mathematics
  • Production of the biennial High School Feedback Report
  • Implementation of Project Lead the Way, a statewide grant program that funds pre-engineering curricula in 13 school districts
  • Support of the Kentucky Early Mathematics Testing Program, a voluntary, online mathematics test for Kentucky high school students that assesses math skills early enough to remedy weaknesses and avoid placement in remedial math in college
  • Go Higher Kentucky college-going Web portal, Kentucky’s one-stop Web site to help students plan, choose, and apply for college

To view the complete 2004 Developmental Education Update and for further information on developmental education in Kentucky, visit To view the agenda for the October 10 Developmental Education Task Force, visit

Kentucky's postsecondary education system encompasses eight public institutions and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, numerous independent institutions and Kentucky Adult Education. The system represents 239,445 students, 538,866 Kentucky alumni and 294,896 GED graduates. When Kentuckians earn postsecondary degrees, their skills improve and their wages go up; they are more likely to lead healthy lives and be engaged in their communities; and they build better futures for themselves and their families.


Last Updated 10/6/2006