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Gaps in College Readiness, Biden + Student Debt Relief, Sen. Murphy Fights Restraint + Seclusion

CT’s Big Gaps in Readiness for College

Over the weekend, the CT Mirror's Jessika Harkay had an interesting piece regarding how even the top students in some Connecticut high schools find themselves insufficiently prepared for college. The article covers the journeys of three students from Waterbury whose AP courses didn't appropriately prepare them to pass the AP test at the end of the year and earn a college credit. It also looks at a “postsecondary readiness” metric tracked by the state (another great data tracking tool from the CSDE)—which is based upon the percentage of students in grades 11 and 12 meeting benchmarks on the AP test, the IB test, the SAT, the ACT, or in dual credit courses. Harkay reports that both Black and Latino high school students are meeting college readiness benchmarks at lower rates than white students.

Looking at the metric from a different angle, we pulled the state-level data (above) based on socioeconomics. While statewide, 43.5% of students met the benchmark in the 2020-21 school year, only 23.6% of students from low-income families (those eligible for free or reduced price lunch) showed the same level of readiness.​ Notably, the rate at which Connecticut public school students are attaining this benchmark is low across the state—suggesting that the K-12 public school system is struggling to prepare students for success after high school.

Consistent with these numbers, a 2021 report from the state on College Enrollment, Credit Attainment and Remediation of High School Graduates shows that—for the graduating class of 2016—41% of those who enrolled in the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system needed remediation within the first two years of enrollment. Two years prior, the rate was 50%, so there has been some improvement!

Biden Issues Student Debt Relief for Thousands in CT

Yesterday, the Biden-Harris Administration released state-by-state runs on the number of borrowers who are newly eligible for automatic loan relief, and the total relief within each state and territory. The announcement is a result of the Administration's fixes to the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plans, which has resulted in an adjusted count of the number of monthly payments borrowers have made that qualify toward loan forgiveness. Nationwide, the fix will result in $39 billion of loan forgiveness for 804,000 borrowers across the country.

The runs show that 7,230 Connecticut borrowers will benefit from this change, totaling a $309.90 million discharge of debts in the state. Eligible borrowers qualify for forgiveness without further action on their part.

The announcement is the latest on an ever-growing list of actions the Administration has taken to address student debt relief, including:

  • $45 billion for 653,800 borrowers through improvements to Public Service Loan Forgiveness;

  • $10.5 billion for 491,000 borrowers with total and permanent disability; and

  • $22 billion for nearly 1.3 million borrowers who were cheated by their schools.

"I have long said that college should be a ticket to the middle class," President Biden said in a statement regarding yesterday’s IDR relief. "Not a burden that weighs down on families for decades."

Senator Murphy Fights Restraint and Seclusion

Hearst CT's Alex Putterman had a Q&A session with US Senator Chris Murphy this week, regarding efforts to limit the use of “restraint and seclusion” (R/S) in schools. The former term refers to physically restricting a student’s movement, while the latter refers to locking students in rooms. We spent some time covering R/S practices in CT back in March, when a marathon public hearing included testimony from many parents and advocates who described the traumatic physical and emotional injury that R/S practices cause to students.

According to Putterman’s 2022 investigation of federal data regarding the use of physical force on young children, R/S practices are used tens of thousands of times annually in Connecticut. These practices disproportionately target Black students and special education students. “There's just no doubt to me that the issue of seclusion and restraints, because it tends to happen most often to disabled kids and to black boys, is a civil rights issue,” Senator Murphy said in yesterday’s Q&A.

Although Connecticut's bill to address R/S practices fell short of passage this year, New York's Board of Regents passed regulations this week that will ban teachers from using prone restraints or isolating them in rooms that they can't leave. Well done, Empire State!

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