From a recent Ed Week article:
A survey by ACT finds that 89 percent of high school teachers report their students are “well” or “very well” prepared for college-level work in the subject they teach, while just 26 percent of college instructors say incoming students are “well” or “very well” prepared for entry-level courses.
I am shocked, shocked!!
No, not at all. Nothing could be more obvious than that most HS teachers in their constant isolation are unaware of what college success demands. Why else would there be 40% remediation rates at college in NJ and NY? Why else would so many kids drop out of college? Why would so many HS assignments bear little relationship to college level demands? [Here’s a new study, added a month after this post, on the disconnect between HS and community college.]
Here is a personal example. Just last week my daughter sent me a draft of her Philosophy paper to review. She is a freshman at Stony Brook, a branch of the SUNY system in New York. Here was the assignment, in its entirety:
What is the result of Nietzche’s genealogical analysis of the concepts of good and evil? How do they come into existence? Your answer should include an analysis of the concept of ressentiment among other concepts you find useful in your answer. Your paper should be approximately 2 pages long with no filler.
I don’t think half of American HS graduates could answer this question adequately, yet she is taking an intro course at a state university.
I once showed a group of HS teachers a set of Freshman exams from various colleges and they could not believe how “difficult” they were.
I therefore find it a dereliction of duty that HS teachers continue to teach and assign work with no attempt to check out what is happening in the colleges they send their kids to (or, better yet, colleges they wish to send their kids to). It ought to be a required policy that each department must a few times a year look at college exams and sample student work from an array of colleges; and either invite in local professors to talk about the deficits of incoming students or visit a local college to talk with their own alumni and their professors. (And via the Internet you can find assignments and exams for any course taught.)
David Conley did a great job of pulling together a lot of such material in College Knowledge. Years ago, Littleton HS used the U of Colorado entrance exam in writing as its exit test in writing, given to all juniors. It used to be a requirement of BOCES vocational courses in New York State that twice per year a meeting needed to occur with the teacher and representatives from the industry or trade they taught, to vet the curriculum and grading standards against industry standards. In short, there are lots of ways to remedy this situation.
Such inquiry and vetting ought to be standard operating procedure in high schools. It is a terrible disservice to our kids to have HS teachers test and grade in a complete vacuum as now most do. (Obviously AP and IB work solves the problem in a different way, but that usually only affects a small fraction of the teacher and student population).
There are no excuses for continuing this HS teacher myopia, none.
PS: This just in: 40% in Colorado also need remediation.