Tuesday, August 17, 2010

All High School Students Should Be Prepared For College?

Earlier this week, the California Department of Education released the results for last spring's standardized testing. Let's look at the results from Mission High in San Francisco, shall we?

English/Language Arts (9th/10th/11th grades)
% advanced: 14/6/6
% proficient: 28/13/11
% basic: 24/28/27
% below basic: 20/26/23
% far below basic: 14/27/34

Algebra I (9th/10th/11th/end of course)--a requirement for graduation in California
% advanced: 0/0/no score/0
% proficient: 17/0/no score/15
% basic: 20/5/no score/18
% below basic: 37/43/no score/38
% far below basic: 26/52/no score/29

Algebra II (9th/10th/11th/end of course)--a minimum requirement for acceptance to a 4-year university in California
% advanced: no score/12/2/5
% proficient: no score/14/0/5
% basic: no score/8/5/6
% below basic: no score/18/25/22
% far below basic: no score/47/68/61

So let's recap. At this one school, anywhere from about 58-84% of all tested students (seniors aren't tested) are less than proficient in English/Language Arts; in Algebra I, 85% of all tested students are less than proficient; and in Algebra II, 89% of all tested students are less than proficient.

Why do I bring this up? Because this particular school has decided that all students must meet the University of California/California State University entrance requirements upon graduating from high school:

But the new freshmen at San Francisco's Mission High School also had to face something else Monday: In the next four years, they will have to complete all college prep classes required for admission to the University of California and California State University systems to graduate.

Almost all of the district's 4,200 freshmen will have to pass 15 courses, including four years of English, three years of math - through advanced algebra - and two years of a foreign language to graduate.

The plan, based on what are commonly called A-G requirements after the seven-part itemized checklist of courses, was implemented by the school board in spring 2009 and is designed to increase the number of college-bound graduates coming out of San Francisco high schools. The class of 2014, which started high school Monday, will be the first that must complete the 15-course requirement.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/08/17/BAUL1EUPE2.DTL#ixzz0wuc8he6k
We don't need more college students, what we need is prospective college students who are ready to perform college-level work without the need for remedial classes. High school isn't supposed to be just a college preparatory academy, it's also supposed to prepare students to be able to function, with a wide variety of at least basic skills and knowledge, in the adult world.

Based on the standardized testing results I quoted above, and the full list of them available at the first link, Mission High shouldn't be trying to make its students college-ready. It might start setting the bar at getting more than just a few of them proficient at high-school academics.


Joanne Jacobs said...

San Jose Unified made the A-G courses the default for all high school students quite a few years ago. Students need a waiver to get off the college track.

Ed Trust says it's a big success. I've heard rumors that teachers are passing students out of pity, especially in summer school. Certainly, there are lots of students taking college-prep courses with basic or below basic skills.

Joanne Jacobs said...

BTW, it's not just Mission High that's requiring students to take the A-G courses. All SF high schools are requiring college prep.

Ellen K said...

Texas has also entered that realm of surreality by pushing the "Four by Four" curriculum where four years of four key core subjects are to be completed by all students. I just have to wonder the third or fourth time that kid fails PreCal or Physics how the stats on dropouts will affect AYP. We have to stop this nonsense and bring back viable vocational programs that prepare students who cannot afford or do not want to go to college to have a job when they graduate.