Five myths of remedial ed

Five myths of remedial education. Number one: It’s all the fault of K-12 schools.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    So we’re to think that colleges share blame (that’s what most people mean these days by “accountability”) for the remediation problems that they’re having, because the colleges aren’t being clear about what collegiate standards are.

    Remind me again what the purpose of making sure that teachers are college graduates is?

    I’d always thought that it was so the teachers would know what constitutes collegiate standards. I could be wrong.

  2. Isn’t it the jobs of public high schools to steer kids toward the correct math requirements, if they are interested in a certain course of study? Or at least tell them what they are?

    My dad had a second career after retirement teaching high school level math to community college students. It seemed like such a waste of money to pay for a class that you could have taken for free in high school.

  3. The problem isn’t that schools don’t put the kids in the right classes, but that the kids who, on paper, passed Algebra II/Trig and precalc have barely enough skills to do geometry.

    I liked the one recommendation–to use ACT/SAT as cut scores, although the paper didn’t acknowledge that most public schools already do that.

    But why back away from their implications? If you can’t make the cut score, then you have had 12 years of school and not learned enough. why can’t we even consider the possibility that this means the student doesn’t have the intellectual ability for college?

    We should take trade schools out of college and stop lumping them together.

  4. Kate,

    When I started high school in 1977 (graduated in 1981), our freshmen orientation handbooks (about 25 pages) stated three tracks of education…general, vocational, and college (this was way before calculators that could handle trig/calculus were commonplace).

    Here are the recommendations for a student planning a college track education back in 1977.

    History/Gov’t (3 years, World History, US History, US Gov’t)
    Math (3 years, Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II/Trig or pre-calc)
    Science (3 years, two of lab sciences)
    Foreign Lang (1 year)
    English (4 years, including composition and literature).

    Now, the only difference between then and now is the issue of grade inflation, lack of general and overall knowledge, over-reliance on technology (calculators, computers, etc), and so on.

    Remember, back in 1977, the only computers students could use were in the computer lab, which connected to the school district’s mainfame and used text based commands to enter and run programs. Scientific calculators didn’t become widely available until about 1979-1980, and cost about 100-125 dollars in those days (picture below):

    http://www.classiccmp.org/dunfield/calc/h/ti55.jpg

    I also agree with Cal, we need to completely STOP admitting students who are not academically prepared to handle college coursework which for a 1st semester freshman includes the following:

    English 101 (3 credits)
    Math (Trig, Finite, Pre-calc, or calculus) 4-5 credits
    Science (biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, environmental) 3-4 credits
    History/Poly Sci (3-4 credits)

    If students cannot test to these standards, they need to continue their education via the school district’s adult education program (where the student pays full freight). Dumbing down higher education benefits no one, esp. the student, the employer, and most of all, the taxpayer.

  5. Mark Roulo says:

    Dumbing down higher education benefits no one, esp. the student, the employer, and most of all, the taxpayer.

    It benefits many of the people who work at the colleges.

    The unprepared students are admitted partially because enough empty classrooms lead to layoffs among both faculty and administration. Neither the faculty nor the administration want that.

  6. Well, lets see…we fill up the classrooms with students who aren’t prepared academically to succeed in a reasonable period of time (3 years for a associate’s, 6 years for a bachelor’s on average), and they rack up a pile of student loan debt (non-dischargable in a bankruptcy mind you) all so that we don’t want to have empty classrooms.

    Hmmmm…no wonder Dr. Marty Nemko stated that the bachelor’s degree is the most overrated product in America today.

    Parents and students in middle/high school should watch the ABCnews 20/20 segment below:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V122ICNS8_0

    Perhaps then people will actually see what is going on and what students are getting for their money (very little, actually).

  7. BadaBing says:

    Great video, Bill. Thanks for posting. It flies in the face of what our principal continually tells the kids. I intend on showing it in class.

  8. tim-10-ber says:

    I agree completely with Cal…

  9. tim-10-ber says:

    To Mark…yes it has become a money game at the college level just like K-12…neither benefit the student which is what they are (were?) suppose to be all about…

  10. Bill Leonard says:

    Interesting, thought-provoking discussion thus far.

    Both our kids have college degrees, and have found such to be of varying degrees of value in the real world.

    Our older son’s BA was in political science. It qualified him for…well, a job at Enterprise, the car rental outfit, where everyone starts out washing rental cars every morning. That was after 18 months or so of frustration and inability to get any decent job in anything related to his field. The good news is, Enterprise has a spectacularly good training program; he found he could sell; and the rest is history. He eventually earned an MBA, has worked for a pharmaceuticals house for nearly 15 years, has been promoted several times and is now part of a newly-formed acquisitions team.

    Our younger son started as a part-time bank teller while earning a degree in econ. He parlayed the experience and the degree into an entry-level job at a credit union, and used that experience to springboard on to subsequent banking jobs, each better than the last. For several years now he has been a commercial and residential loan underwriter for a bank in San Francisco.

    In each case, the degree was something of a paradox: not at all necessary for the actual work entailed in entry-level jobs, but a required license to practice for any job much beyond entry level in their respective fields.

  11. However, this is a complete misuse of the college concept…a degree today is more like a ‘license to get a job’. What ever happened to working your way up through the ranks (which was commonplace 30 to 40 years ago).

    I know in some disciplines (medicine, etc) formal credentials are required, but on the poli-sci degree, it seems like the kid already had a natural talent he never knew about (and in reality, probably could have gotten there eventually on his own).

  12. Bill Leonard says:

    The ‘license to get a job’ aspect may or may not be a misuse of the college/university degree concept, but that’s how it shakes out in the real world of private industry these days. Without the degree there typically is little to no entree to management ranks and the opportunity to work up from there.

    My older son indeed did discover a natural talent for sales and marketing. He also discovered that he and his bride couldn’t afford a house of their own on the Enterprise national salary and commission schedule, which was nicely structured for those in Baton Rouge or Omaha, perhaps, but not for the metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area. And without the college degree, he would not have been hired at the pharmaceutical firm where he now works (and has, and is, working his way up the management ranks).

  13. Sadly, it’s a over-use of credentialing which has gotten us to this point. I know many employers who would be happy if their staff would show up to work on time, be able to handle basic tasks without supervision, and quit socializing on company time.

    I watched a business have customers walk out the other day due to staffers too busy screwing around with IM’s and socializing rather than taking care of the people who pay their salaries.

    Perhaps this is what is wrong with our system of education in the US, too many people who want to be chiefs, and not enough people who actually want to do the work in question…meh