Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Are We Preparing Students for College?

From the latest ACT Curriculum Survey, 1 in 4 college students are found to require some remedial work in the "basics" (reading, writing, math) when they are tested as freshmen. The big question is, why?

College profs are more skeptical than high school teachers that state standards are sufficient to prepare students for college:

But at least in this survey, the priorities for improving preparation only seemed to emphasize how far education is from "no child left behind." The ACT study points the finger at the need for more high school students to master the basics - basic mathematics computation and application, and writing mechanics basics like sentence structure and paragraph organization. But if basics is all that is taught, we're in a lot of trouble.

If Washington state's mandatory assessment the WASL is any measure, a looming problem is that we're not teaching kids to think. Many of you are already aware that Washington state is releasing 1/3 of WASL items every year (with examples of scoring) because they are facing large numbers of students not being allowed to graduate.

But here is opening paragraph from a paper that won a top score ("4") on a persuasive writing prompt WASL. Students were asked to present a persuasive argument supporting or refuting the proposition that requiring daily homework in every class would improve student learning:

From the glowing review of this essay:

Huh? This argument doesn't address the claim that mandatory homework will improve learning, if anything it's an appeal to pity. Ugg. This is an sample of what students should be trying to write? If anything, its use as an example shows us how an emphasis on form may hide an absence of substance.

Schoolteachers, professors differ on what students should know - USATODAY.com
Eide Neurolearning Blog: Why are so many students failing the WASL?
Eide Neurolearning Blog: 50% Failing Math and Science WASL
Basics of Analyzing an Argument
WASL Released Items 10th Grade Writing
Seattle Times: Helping prepare students for the WASL
Seattle Times: New Push for Major WASL Changes

Technorati tags: , , , , , , ,


  1. Anonymous7:21 AM

    Personally, I find myself too irritated by the writer's lack of mastery of formal English to even get the point of considering whether his argument makes any sense. I would hope that folks would learn by 8th grade or so that quotation marks are not used for emphasis. Pet peeve.

  2. Anonymous3:58 PM

    Not to mention the texting-like use of "&" (which I see far too much of in my own students' essays) and the misplaced comma. This essay is scary, but the elegantly written reader response is hilarious. Maybe the reader was kidding-- surely it must be tempting when reading through stacks of these.