Few off-track students will catch up

Eighth graders who are “far off track” for college readiness have little chance of catching up by 12th grade, ACT reports. Fewer than 10 percent hit college readiness benchmarks.

“Far off track” fourth graders rarely catch up by eighth grade.

The report focuses on at-risk students — low-income, special education, black and Hispanic — who are more likely to fall way behind and even less likely to catch up than their classmates.

To narrow achievement gaps, ACT recommends teaching a “content- and vocabulary-rich curriculum beginning in the early grades” in all subjects.

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  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but saying it again couldn’t hurt and this seems an appropriate place to do it: It’s just about impossible for students to “catch up” if they fall behind academically. The best they can do is improve their crappy position.

    If you fall behind in a race, you can catch up to the other runners, but only IF YOU RUN FASTER THAN THEY ARE RUNNING. And then, you only “gain” in increments equal to the speed differential, not your total speed.

    So if you’re in a 1200 meter race, and most of the runners are around the 800 meter mark after 3 minutes (around the pace for about a 7 minute mile), and you’re only around the 600 meter mark after 3 minutes (around the pace for an 8 and a half minute mile), then it’s not enough for you to take your 200 m/min pace and increase it to their 266 m/min pace. Not if you want to finish with the pack.

    You have to cover 400m in the time they cover 200m, or in other words, you have to increase your speed up to a blinding 532 m/min — more than doubling your original pace to nearly a 3 and a half minute mile, and sustaining it for nearly a minute. That might simply be beyond the lagging student’s abilities.

    And that’s assuming a rosy situation about a number of other things:

    1) That you’re only 200m behind;
    2) That the pack doesn’t speed up toward the end of the race (either because of increased effort or because of the compound interest effect of learning);
    3) That the race ends at the 1200m mark, which in education these days, is questionable;
    4) That the student who is behind actually wants to catch up in the first place.

    The one thing that you have going for you (if you’re the lagging student trying to catch up) is that it’s likely that the race officials are going to bind and cripple the frontrunners for you.

    But even if that’s the case, those damn frontrunners are going to sprint ahead when no one’s looking, so don’t get cocky.