Only one-quarter of high school students who take a full set of college-preparatory courses four years of English and three each of mathematics, science and social studies are well prepared for college, according to a new study of last year's high school graduates released today by ACT, the Iowa testing organization.This is pretty much just an open thread. I really don't know what to think about this stuff anymore. I mean, it's hardly surprising that a national testing organization thinks curriculum standards ought to be higher, and the report doesn't seem to provide any comparison of its results with past studies, so it's impossible to say if things are actually any worse than in the past. On the other hand, the statistics on their own look pretty bad, and the anecdotes look really bad. Nobody writes term papers anymore? Plus there's the fact that my friend Professor Marc says his classes for the past couple of years have been noticably less prepared for real work than in the past.
....The study predicted whether the students had a good chance of scoring C or better in introductory college courses, based on their test scores and the success rates of past test takers. The study concluded that only 26 percent were ready for college-level work in all four core areas, while 19 percent were not adequately prepared in any of them.
....Kati Haycock, director of the Education Trust, another Washington-based group that advocates standard-setting, said that as she traveled around the country, she found many schools not offering challenging work.
"When you look at the assignments these kids get, it is just appalling," she said. "A course may be labeled college-preparatory English. But if the kids get more than three-paragraph-long assignments, it is unusual. Or they'll be asked to color a poster. We say 'How about doing analysis?' and they look at us like we are demented."
The full report is here for hardy souls.