17.8.11

PAYING TWICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL.  The inefficiency of colleges and universities reteaching high school has long been a theme at Cold Spring Shops.  A Washington Times report suggests that others are catching on.
Students are much more likely to drop out of college if they feel that they are simply repeating high school, said Bob Wise, former West Virginia governor and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based advocacy group.

Taxpayers also suffer, Mr. Wise said, by “paying twice” for students to take high-school-level classes again, since most remedial work doesn’t count toward college graduation.

In the 2007-08 academic year, the alliance estimates, remedial courses cost about $5.6 billion — $3.6 billion in “direct educational costs” such as taxpayer contributions to state universities and another $2 billion in lost wages, a result of giving up on higher education and missing out on the bigger paychecks that tend to come with college degrees.

“There simply has not been alignment or coordination between the K-12 system and the higher education system about what students need to know,” Mr. Wise said Tuesday.

“What we know about remedial courses is the student and the taxpayer are paying twice. You’re paying a lot of money to get back” to the academic level students should be at on the day they graduate from high school.
Walter Russell Mead, who provided the link, revises and extends.
The truth is that if American high schools (and middle and elementary schools) were doing their jobs, many students could get all the formal education they need in 12 years.

In any case, we need to move from a ‘time based’ to a competency based educational system.  You don’t get a high school diploma because you have spent 12 years in classrooms; you get a high school diploma because you have demonstrated a certain level of core competence.

A fortiori for BA, MA and JD and PhD degrees.  American students could learn much more in much less time — and at much less cost — than they now do. Making this move quickly and effectively is one of the keys to American success in the new century.
The Times article, to its credit, also recognizes that No Child Left Behind equates to No Child Gets Ahead.
A 2008 report by the education advocacy group Strong American Schools found that 80 percent of college students taking remedial classes had a high school GPA of 3.0 or better.

The ACT results fuel critics’ argument that federal education policy, with its heavy focus on standardized tests, does little to advance real-world goals such as college readiness and career preparation.

“Test-driven policies which claim to be improving U.S. public schools have, in fact, failed by their own standards,” said Bob Schaeffer, public education director at the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. “Proponents of No Child Left Behind and similar state-level high-stakes testing programs … made two promises: Their strategy would boost overall academic performance and it would narrow historic achievement gaps between ethnic groups. But academic gains, as measured by ACT, are stagnant and racial gaps are increasing.”
Little by little ...

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