Thousands of Indiana high school students are graduating without the basic math, reading and writing skills needed to succeed in college, according to reports from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

In 2011 - the most recent year available - 41 percent of Indiana high school seniors who graduated from public schools with the state's required college preparatory diploma, known as Core 40, had to take at least one remedial course after enrolling at one of Indiana's state-supported colleges. Most learned they needed the remediation only after failing the placement exams used to assess the abilities of incoming freshmen.

The numbers are now driving a renewed effort among state officials to close what they see as a major disconnect between the skills and knowledge students gain in high school and those colleges and universities expect.

"We must do better," Indiana's commissioner for higher education, Teresa Lubbers told the Kokomo Tribune for a story.

"When we hand students a high school diploma, they and their families assume it indicates they're ready for postsecondary coursework. Too often, they're not."

More than 1.7 million college freshmen across the U.S. take remedial courses each year. The annual cost of remediation to states, schools and students is close to $7 billion, according to a 2012 report by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Fewer than 50 percent of students enrolled in remedial courses complete them. Those who do find their path to graduation delayed or derailed. Two-thirds of students in four-year colleges needing remediation fail to earn their degrees within six years. Fewer than 8 percent of students in two-year colleges earn their degrees within four years.

From a taxpayer's standpoint, remediation is like paying for the same education twice. At Ivy Tech Community College, about two-thirds of incoming freshmen have to take remedial coursework. It's closer to one-third for students attending the state's four-year public universities.

"The data from our perspective is fairly clear: Earning a Core 40 diploma is not an indicator of college readiness," said Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder.

Gov. Mike Pence made college readiness one of his priorities when taking office last January.

By 2018, 55 percent of Indiana jobs will require some postsecondary education, according to a recent report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The state must act to meet that demand. And it must start by reviewing high school graduation standards.