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Report Finds Persistent Deficit in Skills Among Maryland College Students

Updated: Wednesday, November 13 2013, 11:53 AM EST

Maryland's public school system has achieved high rankings nationally but a persistent deficit in skills among Maryland college students is highlighted in a new report compiled by an organization that tracks higher education standards across the country.

The report, from Complete College, found almost one quarter of Maryland college students attending four year schools needed remedial training. In community colleges the numbers are even worse - a whopping 60% who enroll in community colleges need to be brought up to speed on the basics.

Dr. Joe Hairston is a lifelong educator who served as superintendent of Baltimore County schools for 12 years. He says students aren't prepared in part because of a lack of uniform standards. A new controversial plan known as Common Core is meant to address that.

"I think the solution is if there is one, the first step is to make sure there is a tighter alignment between k-12 and higher education," Hairston said. "The high school on the east coast may not be aligned with the university on the west coast, unless something like Common Core, some sort of national initiative is in place to establish a common thread."

But many parents and educators remain skeptical of Common Core, for which the curriculum isn't fully written but is already being taught in schools. It's resulting in some teachers getting their lesson plans just weeks before they are expected to teach it in class.

It's created such anger in parents that one father was recently arrested at a Baltimore County meeting because his concerns on common core weren't being addressed.

State Delegate Pat McDonough says the problem with college preparedness isn't just about what's being taught. He thinks the state's educational system lacks focus which leaves students unprepared.

"Everything is moving in different directions," McDonough said. "With all these new systems, the teachers are complaining, the parents are complaining. So I don't think education is doing very well in Maryland."

Even Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown says the state has to do better.

"We need better alignment between high school and community colleges because many of our students are choosing community colleges," Brown said.

It's a process Hairston says is not just about curriculum or spending, but also the student's desire to learn.

"What's most important is to make a commitment that you want to do the best you can do."

Report Finds Persistent Deficit in Skills Among Maryland College Students

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