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What Aren’t They Learning in Schools?

March 22, 2010

Yesterday, the Dallas Morning News shared a story about the need for graduating high school students to take rememdial courses once they hit colleges and universities. The piece reported that each year, tens of thousands of students find themselves in what was termed “academic purgatory” during their first year in college.

The truly unfortunate part of the story is that Dallas — and Texas — is not alone in this situation.  During Fall of 2008, Washington State House Representative Ross Hunter shared similar information during his frequent presentations at local School District headquarters related to the education inititiative knows as the “Basic Education Taskforce.”  In his presentations, Rep. Hunter pointed out that a full 50% of graduating seniors in Washington State had to take some form of remedial High School courses once they hit college. This is not too far off from the info presented in the Dallas Morning news article which states about 40% of Texas students are in the same situation.

This begs an obvious question: If you have to achieve some pre-determined level of “proficiency” — according to your particular State’s rules — in order to graduate, if 50% of these “proficient” students are esssentially repeating some of what they learned in High School once they get to college, how “proficient” can they truly be?

There’s a huge cost-impact to this problem, naturally.  The Dallas Morning news puts a $80M annual pricetag on retraining high school students across the state.

Once again, we can’t seem to do the job properly the first time around, but we can always find the money to do it over.

At the same time, school administrations across the country are looking for ways to simplify testing standards and reduce the requirements students need to graduate to lower the high drop-out rate.  To make matters worse, the reductions in academic requirements for graduation would involve math and science.

How many more students would need remedial education in colleges if this came to pass, do you suppose?  This would move the burden of developing student proficiency from the K-12 schools and dump it squarely in the laps of the colleges.

If at first you don’t succeed…kick the can down the road? You call “that” a solution? It’s not even an adequate bandaid, folks.

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