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ALBANY – Leaders of more than 200 colleges and universities from 33 states, including all the State University of New York colleges, today created a new coalition to defend the Common Core.

Students entering colleges are not prepared and the higher education leaders say that Common Core is needed to address that problem.

“This is a call to action and I urge my colleagues in higher education to stand up and make their voices heard on Common Core,” Nancy Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, said in a written statement released prior to a morning telephone press conference she and college leaders from other states were scheduled to hold.

The leaders say the standards are needed to help high school students have a successful college education.

The college leaders involved in the new effort say that 20 percent of high school graduates entering four-year colleges – and about 50 percent going into two-year schools – need to go into remedial programs to help them succeed in college coursework.

“Remediation slows down student progress and, in some cases, puts a halt to the college experience,” John Morgan, chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents, said in a written statement. The group of college leaders say that about one-third of those students diverted into remedial coursework end up taking six years to get a bachelor’s degree.

The college presidents say the Common Core program should not be watered down, or reversed, if graduates from United States’ colleges are to compete with foreign students from countries with higher educational standards.

In a telephone news conference this morning, Zimpher said there is “a lot of misinformation’’ about the Common Core and that the group of college leaders have come together to present a “unified message’’ to try to stop efforts in many states to reverse the higher standards.

“Stay the course and adjust the implementation strategy,’’ she said of tweaking the program if problems arise with the standards.

Zimpher said the coalition is not attacking the work of high schools, but noted that colleges often find themselves ‘’reteaching’’ coursework that students should have learned before coming to college.

The Higher Ed for Higher standards coalition comes together at a time when colleges have largely been silent on the debate, which has been fought by politicians, teachers unions, parents and educators in public elementary, middle and high schools. Common Core has come under increasing attack from both the right and left,

The Common Core sets national standards for what students up to grade 12 are to learn in English arts and mathematics. In New York, standardized tests based on the Common Core standards will partly be used in judging the effectiveness of classroom teachers, though there are talks under way by legislators in Albany to further amend that program.

The new coalition represents public college presidents and postsecondary systems that have a total student enrollment of more than 3 million students. Nearly one-fourth of the coalition are leaders of SUNY colleges. Other states represented in the new effort include California, Iowa, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia, South Dakota and Illinois. The full membership is at www.higheredforhigherstandards.org.

The group’s platform calls for every state to “insist on K-12 academic standards that adequately prepare students for college and careers."

The group says that existing high school tests “do not adequately measure whether students have mastered the new, higher standards" and that “more meaningful" assessments are needed to help schools, students and parents.

The move today by the college leaders across the country is the first major organized step by higher education institutions to say they have a stake in the Common Core program and its continuation. The coalition’s leaders note the new effort comes from colleges located in both red and blue states.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com