Friday, May 20, 2005

Life Long Learning

Over the years, I can recall various conversations regarding student growth, preparedness and remediation. They go something like the following:

First Grade Teacher: These kids have no social skills at all. Why can't the parents do more to get their kids ready for school?

Third Grade Teacher: These kids don't know the alphabet or their math facts. Why can' t the earlier grade teachers do more?

High School Teacher: These young people don't have any of the prerequisite math skills. Why can't the middle school teachers do more?

College Instructor: Half of our entering freshmen are in remediation. Why can't the high school teachers do more?

Educators and the public alike often talk about a K-16 or K-20 system of education in this country. In fact, just last week a retired professor of mine talked about being a "life long student" and how the biggest pleasure he gets in life is the fun in finding things out. Yet, our educational systems are quick to "pass the blame" onto what has gone before. It seems to me that a more integrated system of learning, including measurement of skills from K-20 might make it easier to debunk (or at least put into perspective) the gaps students have in their pre-requisite skills as they move from kindergarten to college.

One interesting step in this area is the use of "college readiness" indicators as part of the state mandated assessment system. Texas has recently required such an indicator.

Preliminary results of the research supporting this effort (as conducted by Pearson Educational Measurement in coordination with the Texas Education Agency) is also presented.

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