Charter grads go farther, earn more

Charter high school students go farther in school and earn more as adults, concludes a Mathematica study. Researchers followed Florida and Chicago charter eighth graders for 11 years, comparing those who attended a charter high school and classmates who went to a traditional high school.

Charter students don’t earn higher test scores, on average, unless they attend “no excuses” charters, previous research has found. However, they’re significantly more likely than similar students to complete high school and enroll in college. 

. . . students attending Chicago and Florida charter high schools were 7 to 15 percentage points more likely to graduate and 8 to 10 percentage points more likely to enroll in college than comparison groups of students who attended charter middle schools but matriculated to traditional public high schools.

The former charter high students earned more at age 25 than the control group, Mathematica found. That suggests charter high schools “are endowing students with skills, knowledge, work habits, motivation, and values that are important for long-term success but are not fully captured by test scores.”

College readiness isn’t just academic

Even if they’re prepared academically for college, many students don’t understand college expectations, behaviors and attitudes, researchers say. What does it mean to “study hard” or “come prepared” to class? Students are used to high school teachers who tell students exactly what to do — and let them slide if they don’t do it.

If at first you don’t succeed, try again—for free

If at first you don’t succeed, try again—for free –at Missouri State University-West Plains.  “We’re telling students that if they go to all of their classes, do all of their assigned homework, communicate with their instructors and advisors and use our free tutoring services, they will earn acceptable passing grades,” said Chancellor Drew Bennett. “If, however, they faithfully do all of these things and still earn below a 2.0 grade point average, we will let them, for one time only, retake courses where they earned a D or F grade tuition free the next regular semester.”

Enrolling in community college raises the odds students will earn a bachelor’s degree, says a new study. Most don’t make it. But for most, the alternative to community college isn’t a four-year college or university. It’s no college at all.

To pass or not to pass

Elena drifted into sophomore English class without any materials and spent class time texting or socializing. She didn’t complete assignments.  Yet she reads and writes — when she bothers to do so — at grade level.  Occasionally, she made intelligent comments in class discussions. Her average is just below 60 percent. Should she fail?

She remained blissfully unconcerned as I cajoled, teased, chided, scolded, and threatened her into completing work. Calls home were unproductive, and other teachers indicated that English was not the only cause for academic concern. The school year was maddening.

Now, as the grades are totaled in June, I wonder: Do I hold her accountable for work left incomplete? Can she be exempted from the assignments that all her classmates completed? What is the minimum number of assignments that are the most important to determining student performance? If I exempt her from less important assignments, am I reinforcing her lack of responsibility? Finally, is passing her fair to the students who did complete the assigned work?

Elena doesn’t really need another year of 10th-grade English. She needs to learn to be a responsible student. But how?

B students need remedial classes

B students in high school are finding themselves in remedial classes at community colleges, Community College Spotlight reports.

Ninety-four percent of Chicago Public Schools graduates who go to city community colleges need remediation in math. Most also need to work on basic reading and writing skills. Many thought they were doing well in high school.

Eighty-five percent of California’s incoming community college students aren’t prepared for college math and 70 percent aren’t ready for college English. Four out of five remedial students had a B average or higher in high school. Instructors are experimenting with accelerated remediation to get students into college-level classes quickly.

If high school students realized the odds of having to pay for no-credit classes in college, would they work harder and learn the skills earlier? You’d think so.

Update: In Pennsylvania, a B+ student finds himself in remedial reading and writing. Unlike most remedial students, he earns an associate degree, but it takes six years.