Sunday, March 26, 2017

College and Career Readiness

If "equality" means everyone is equally dumb and unprepared, to heck with that kind of equality:
While ersatz “credit recovery” and grade inflation devalue the high school diploma by boosting graduation rates even as NAEP, PISA, PARCC, SAT, and sundry other measures show that no true gains are being made in student achievement, forces are at work to do essentially the same thing to the college diploma.

Observe the new move by CalState to do away with “remediation” upon entry to its institutions and instead to confer degree credit for what used to be the kinds of high-school-level content and skills that one had to master before gaining access to “credit-bearing” college courses.

The new term for these bridge classes for entering college students is “corequisite” and California isn’t the only place that’s using them. One study at CUNY—dealing with community colleges, not four-year institutions—says greater success was achieved when ill-prepared students were placed in “regular” college classes but given “extra support” than when they were shunted into “remediation.” Perhaps so. Perhaps placement tests aren’t the best way to determine who is actually prepared to succeed in “college level” work. But that’s not the same as saying—as CalState seems to be saying—that anyone emerging from high school, regardless of what they did or didn’t learn there, deserves entry into “regular” college classes.

That essentially erases the boundary between high school and college, and not in the good way being undertaken by sundry “early college” and “Advanced Placement” courses, the purpose of which is to bring college-level work into high schools. Now we’re seeing high-school-level work being brought into college, there to count for credit toward bachelor’s degrees.
But, equality!

I despise the term "college and career readiness", as if the two parts are synonymous.  One need not have completed Algebra 2, or a lab science, or a visual/performing art to be career ready, depending on the career.  Take a look at any list of what constitutes "college and career readiness", and you'll see it slants heavily to the college side.  Not everyone can or should go to college, and we (college graduates who work in education) do students a terrible disservice by, in effect, telling them that if they don't go to college, they're failures straight out of the gate.

Maybe, just maybe, many of the students in the article above shouldn't even be in universities in the first place (community colleges are the places for such students).  And Common Core standards, with their myriad misguided emphases, will only exacerbate the problem:
Vince Bertram, president and CEO of an organization called Project Lead the Way, argues that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos must focus less on controversial issues such as school choice and Common Core, and more on the goal of education — which he identifies as straight workforce-development. “DeVos’ most important task,” Bertram writes, “will be to cast a vision for what education can be for our next generation to meet the demands of a global economy.” He uses a litany of progressive-education buzzwords — “critical thinkers, collaborators, and problem solvers” — to describe the types of human products our schools must turn out for industry. If there is any other purpose to education, Mr. Bertram doesn’t acknowledge it.

But is developing a workforce for corporations what schools should be about? Such a constricted view of the purpose of education is in fact a central tenet of the utilitarian Common Core (to which standards Bertram’s organization aligns the curricula it creates), but it ignores the deeper purpose that underlies traditional, classical education. That purpose is to offer students the best in human thought so that they may assume their place as knowledgeable citizens, able to cultivate their own gifts and participate wisely in governing their society. It is to educate children so that they can appreciate life, understand others, and fully exercise their liberties.

Common Core’s “workforce development” view is less about education and more about training. The idea is to teach students skills that transfer directly to the modern world of work. By implication, anything that doesn’t contribute to that goal is less important and should be minimized if not discarded. It is the latest iteration of progressive education philosophy. But make no mistake about it, this is not the type of education to which elitist propagators of Common Core — people like Bill Gates or Barack Obama — subject their children. As Woodrow Wilson argued:
We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class… to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
Bertram and Project Lead The Way apparently focus exclusively on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines. It’s thus ironic that they would support Common Core — which, as renowned mathematician Dr. James Milgram has repeatedly warned, is so deficient that it cannot prepare students for future STEM studies.
Common Core, coming as it did with a push from the Obama Administration, is fixed in concrete here in California. And of course, we teachers will be asked to jump through even more hoops to try to unscrew what the state government has screwed by adopting these standards, universities will twist into ever more elaborate contortions to keep paying but grossly under-prepared students in their seats.

Essentially, education in California is screwed.  Before too long I wonder if we'll be preparing kids for college or careers.


Anonymous said...

But, but, if you have a college degree you will make more money over your lifetime. So we should give a degree to everyone so that they can all make more money...right??

Ellen K said...

My own kids are in their late 20's and early 30's. They constantly complain about the dithery and ditzy qualities of those recent college grads. They don't seem to understand deadlines or limitations. Everything is cast in jello.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone is going to be a CEO or a millionaire. I blame the school system for building these kids up with unrealistic expectations while simultaneously looking down upon those students who choose a trade field. My fancy college degrees definitely improved my earning potential and I have a great job that I love, but my SO makes more than double what I do as a heavy equipment operator. He dropped out of college, left college athletics, and realized his long term career potential elsewhere. I think schools should start showing kids again that there is no dishonor and there is great career security and longevity in trades. This world doesn't run without them.

There's nothing wrong with going to college but there needs to be a reality check for all the parents pushing AP classes, impressive and excessive GPA climbs, high SAT scores and admission into major research universities that those things DO NOT guarantee high levels of success and entrance into high earning potential.

Anonymous said...

Also-- a follow up to the last comment, I really don't believe Common Core is a viable set up for either college or career. I think the schools should be allowed to focus their programs around what their populations need.