After receiving my letter of acceptance from Wilkes University, the very next step was to take a math placement test. Those dreaded placement tests. The single test that would determine whether you were competent enough to start your college math at a “calculus” level or an “algebra” level. I was placed in the latter, not because I couldn’t “do math,” but because I had never learned the material that was on the placement test.
The fact that we need to take these tests in the first place points to flaws in education. Students right out of high school are simply not prepared for college in not only math, but in several academic subjects. According to a recent CollegeBoard study, only 43 percent of high school seniors passed the college readiness benchmark.
What are the underlying problems and why aren’t students ready for college when they graduate high school?
Since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, standardized testing has become a primary focus for public schools across the nation. Curriculum is narrowed down to material that may or may not be seen on the test. However, the SAT and ACT tests only reflect a small portion of what students should be learning in school. Many necessary “real-world” skills cannot be measured on a multiple choice test.
Besides the narrowing focus on tests that don’t matter, ineffective teachers may also be to blame for unpreparedness in college. After sitting through nine classes a day for four years, I can honestly say that there were quite a few teachers in a variety of subjects and grade levels who failed to demonstrate any expertise in the classroom.
I had a history teacher in high school that had the audacity to sit in the back of the room and spit chewing tobacco into the garbage can while he mindlessly clicked to advance the next Powerpoint slide. When I asked my pre-calculus teacher a question, she told me to “figure it out” and refused to help me. My computer teacher had the class write out the history of computers using an irrelevant JAVA textbook as an “April Fools” joke.
These are the people who responsible for preparing us for college?
While teachers may be at fault for lack of basic knowledge, they are not entirely to blame. Motivation and discipline may also be key factors in determining a student’s success.
Many students are content with doing the bare minimum, whether it is homework, class participation or attendance. Many students fail to learn how to meet a deadline – a skill that is crucial not only in college, but in the workplace as well.of all different learning levels are mish-mashed into a single class, where it is obvious which students want to be there and which do not.
It’s no wonder why students have such a difficult time transitioning into college. A combination of the wrong subject matter, ineffective teachers and lack of motivation in the classroom results in students playing a game of catch-up once they hit college.
College readiness does not always accompany a high school diploma. While report cards may say otherwise, high schools are failing our students for future education.