Not Prepared for College

I just read a disturbing article in The Grand Rapids Press by Ron French of Bridge Magazine.  Here’s the link: /05/in_college_readiness_michigan_1.html.  What is disturbing, along with the low level of academic preparedness and the high drop out rate (27% in the first year), is that it will take eight years before we see students who are more prepared by having gone through K-12 programs under the new curriculum.

In the article, Bridge describes the low level of college readiness among Michigan high school graduates.  The answer, attributed to Mike Flanagan, state School Superintendent, is to fund early childhood education—get students when the brain is developing.  Of course, it’s too late for students who are in school now and have missed this window of opportunity.

I’m sure Flanagan has more than this to offer.  But I have to wonder: what is happening to kids in between—those who will graduate high school and go off to college before the curriculum changes infuse their education?  I’m willing to wait to see the results, but not at the cost of seeing years of students graduate and go to college only to be channeled into remedial courses and eventually drop out.

If we’re going to tell our kids that going to college is the best thing they can do for their futures—and the best thing they can do for their communities—then we have to give them the tools to succeed.   We should be preparing them in their regular classes and offering special programs to help them succeed.  And it’s not just academics—basic knowledge of math, history, literature—many students get to college and find the challenges of critical thinking, writing long research papers, managing multiple demands and understanding the academic culture are bigger challenges than doing the homework.

I could go on and on here, especially since my own children will be in the group that graduates before these curriculum changes are expected to have a big effect, but it’s time for us to all stop and think—and then to move forward in addressing this issue.

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