Is your 6th grader on track for college?
Parents need to know whether their middle schoolers are on track for college success, writes Fordham’s Mike Petrilli. If students might work harder and achieve more, if they knew their future depended on it.
Ignorance isn’t bliss.
“Only about one-third of American teenagers leave the K–12 system ready to succeed in postsecondary education,” Petrilli writes. “Another third go to college unprepared, where they hit the brick wall of remedial coursework, and many of them — including almost all of the low-income students — drop out.”
Chart 1: College preparedness, college matriculation, and college completion
An online tool can use standardized test scores to predict middle schoolers’ college options, he wrote last year.
However, in focus groups, Columbus, Ohio parents said they didn’t trust test scores, Fordham learned.
If their kids’ report cards are full of As and Bs, and their teachers tell them at parent-teacher conferences that everything looks good, that’s what they are going to believe. They don’t know what “we” know—that the vast majority of kids in America get As and Bs, whether they are on track or not. . . . The most common refrains at the focus groups were “my child just doesn’t test well” and “they just had a bad day.”
In Petrilli’s plan, starting in sixth grade, a teacher or counselor would sit down with parents every year to discuss their child’s report card, test scores and other data. For example:
We can already see some warning signs that Maya has some gaps that she needs to work on. (Explain). . . She needs to be putting more effort into her homework, and should think about signing up for tougher classes next year. You can also help her at home. One great site is Khan Academy, where she can view online lessons that are pinpointed directly at her challenge areas. Let me stress that, at her current trajectory, she is likely to either not get into college, or get in and struggle. We need to change that trajectory!
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to encourage college planning by making a letter of acceptance to a college, job training program or the military a graduation requirement. (All Chicago Public Schools high school graduates are accepted automatically into the city’s community colleges.)
CPS student’s path to college must begin in middle school, points out a letter to the Chicago Tribune.
Students need to see the connection between what they’re doing in school and what they want to do in the future. I’d like to see middle and high schools hire counselors to help students and parents set goals, plan a pathway, monitor progress and re-evaluate goals. What needs to happen to turn dreams into reality?
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