News Release
Contacts: Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director
Tracy Mercer, Information Research Analyst

T: 605.773.3455
F: 605.773.5320

For release on 13 December, 2001

High School Graduates Transition to College Reflects Choices and Preparation

PIERRE- "If you want to be prepared for college, take the right courses in high school," said South Dakota Board of Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry. The Board of Regents released the annual High School to College Transition Report today, providing data on freshmen entering the state universities in Fall 2000.

The high school to college transition report, formerly the high school feedback report, was developed by the Board of Regents in 1995. The report summarizes information about South Dakota high school graduates who enter South Dakota public universities in the same year in which they graduated.

"The gap continues to increase for those who complete the recommended preparatory curriculum and those who do not," said Perry. "Students who do not complete core classes are continuing to score much lower on the ACT examination than those who complete the recommended core courses."

A total of 2,665 South Dakota 2000 high school graduates entered one of the six Regental universities as full-time freshmen in Fall 2000. Of those, 66.1% enrolled exclusively in general education courses, leading to degree credit. The other 33.9% enrolled in either remedial math or English courses. According to an annual report published by the National Center for Education Statistics, The Condition of Education 2001, 40% of all students enrolled in 4-year universities enroll in at least one remedial course.

This is the first cohort of South Dakota high school graduates who were placed using the revised Board of Regents placement process, which is based on students' performance on the ACT college entrance exams. The placement process was revised based on feedback from high schools and is consistent across all six Regental universities. Results of a pilot project conducted in 2000 indicated that students placed under the new process were more successful in their initial math coursework than students who had been placed according to the old process. The table on the next page compares ACT scores and first-year college grade point averages for students enrolled in general education and remedial courses.


SD High School Class of 2000

Fall 2000 Freshmen Enrolled in General Education Courses

Fall 2000 Freshmen Enrolled in Remedial Education Courses

ACT Composite Score



University GPA



"Preparation is the key to college success. This is a message that many college-bound students understand. The number of South Dakota high school graduates who were awarded credit for the College Board Advanced Placement exams increased from 4.55% in 1999 to 5.67% in 2000. These students, with support of their parents, are choosing to earn college credit while still in high school. We expect that number to increase again for Fall 2001," said Perry. "The math courses reported to ACT for the Class of 2000 show significant differences in ACT scores, directly related to preparation. It is quite clear that to be ready for college, students must choose a more rigorous curriculum." The ACT scores shown in relation to preparation are provided in the table below.

Years of Study HS Math Courses


Composite ACT Score

4 Years of Math Alg 1, Alg 2, Geom, Trig, Calc



  Alg 1, Alg 2, Geom, Trig, other adv math



  Alg 1, Alg 2 Geom, Trig



  Alg 1, Alg 2, Geom, other adv math



3 Years of Math Alg 1, Alg 2, Geom



  Other 3 or 3.5 years of math



2 Years of Math Any combination



Core Curriculum*  



Less than Core Curriculum  



Source: ACT High School Profile Report Class of 2000

*ACT defines core curriculum as 4 years of English, 3 years or more of math (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Trigonometry, Calculus or other advanced math), 3 years or more of social sciences, and 3 years or more of natural sciences.

"The high school to college transition report enhances communication between high schools and the public universities by providing the high schools with information about their graduates’ readiness for postsecondary coursework. To be prepared for college, students must receive feedback and advice from their parents, schools, and universities. If students are encouraged to take the right courses, they will not need remediation," said Perry. "Students need to be advised on their course selections as early as middle school. The National Educational Longitudinal Study of the U.S. Department of Education shows that the foundation for math success is laid in middle school. Students who study algebra in middle school are at an advantage because this is the foundation for all later math and for science."

Perry also noted that similar performance levels are registered for students who take more English.

Associated School Boards of South Dakota Executive Director Gene Enck said, "I find the results of the transition report encouraging because we see steady improvement in student performance. This is a tribute both to the local school districts and to the state university systems. To continue this progress school districts need to continue their efforts to provide more advanced placement courses as well as more demanding courses in the senior year," said Enck.

Christie L. Johnson, Executive Director for the School Administrators of South Dakota, agrees, "We are pleased with the increase in the average ACT composite score and the continued increase in the number of high school students who earn college credit for taking Advanced Placement courses while still in high school. But, we are concerned about students who do require remedial course work at the college level. Remediation results in additional expense and time that we believe could be prevented if college-bound students take a rigorous college preparatory curriculum all four years. Students and parents must understand that the prevasive practice of selecting a less demanding curriculum, especially for the second semester of the senior year, can negatively impact success at the university level. The commonly known 'senior slump' must be changed to the 'senior surge'."

A copy of the 2000 High School to College Transition Report may be obtained by calling (605) 773-3455. Please direct questions to Daniel Petra, Program Coordinator for Academic Affairs. The report is also available on the South Dakota Board of Regents web site at the Internet Address:


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