Saturday, January 30, 2010

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review

LITTLE ROCK - The number of college students who need
remedial classes rose significantly this year, from 51.3 percent to 54.6

One factor in the increase has been a sharp rise in the
number of non-traditional students over the age of 25 who are going to
college. In the current slow economy, many adults are trying to improve
their job skills and marketability by getting a college degree. However,
they're finding that they are not prepared for college level course work
so they must first take remedial classes in math, reading and English.

Having to take remedial courses is a big obstacle for many
college students because even though they are paying for the classes,
they are not receiving credit. That means the cost of getting a degree
is even more expensive for them.

Even taking into account this year's increase in the need
for remedial education, Arkansas students are better prepared for
college than they used to be. For example, as recently as 2002 the
percentage of newly enrolled college students who had to take remedial
classes was 58.4 percent.

Over the past couple of decades Arkansas high school
graduates have steadily improved their academic preparation for college.
A big reason is that educators strongly encouraged them to take a more
rigorous curriculum. This year's graduating class will be the first that
has been required to take the so-called Smart Core preparatory
curriculum in high school.

High school students have been taking more challenging
academic classes, and that has worked to bring up test scores. However,
a much greater number of students have been taking standardized tests in
preparation for college, and when the number of test takers increases it
tends to hold down scores.

This is a good example of a trend that has good and bad
aspects. Although we could brag more if average test scores went up
faster, it is very encouraging that greater numbers of high school
graduates are going on to college.

The number of students who took the ACT standardized test
went up from 20,481 to 21,689. If they fail to score a 19 or above, they
are required to take remedial classes in college. A perfect score is a

Math was the toughest subject for the test takers - 46.1
percent did not score high enough to avoid remedial math in college.
English was the second most difficult - 33.7 percent did not score a 19
or above on the English portion of the ACT. On the reading section of
the test, 29.1 percent scored below a 19. Two thirds of the students who
required remediation needed it in at least two subjects.

Attorney General Sues Internet Lenders

The state attorney general has sued a payday lender that
operates over the Internet. The suit alleges that the company charges
interest rates from 300 percent to as much as 1,300 percent, which
violates Arkansas laws against usury.

The Internet lender operates a web site called Loan Point
USA. Other Internet lenders charging usurious fees have stopped doing
business in Arkansas after the attorney general contacted them.

About 240 payday lenders in Arkansas shut down because of
legal pressure from the attorney general's office. They were charging
interest rates as high as 300 percent.

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