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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

What's the Target?

Right now, students have a variety of targets they are expected to meet by the time they leave high school.

It is important to know the target for a couple of reasons. One, we should be clear about our expectations for students. Two, everyone claims that they start with the end goal and work back from there (if this is what the students are supposed to be doing in the 12th grade, then we need them to be doing this in the 11th grade, and this in the 10th grade, etc.)

The kids are certainly expected to be able to pass the High School Proficiency Exams (HSPEs - formerly known as the WASL) in reading and writing. They will soon be expected to pass the math and science ones as well. These tests, however, are keyed to the 10th grade Standards - the highest Standards the state has written. Since there is no test beyond grade 10 the state has not written any state Standards beyond grade 10.

Here in Seattle, however, the state Standards aren't good enough. Our students are supposed to meet college-readiness Standards. At least that's the talk. The Board has not voted to adopt any such thing and I don't believe that there is a written document that describes these college-readiness standards in any detail. I'd be interested in seeing them. I'm particularly interested to see if they presume a narrow or broad definition of "college". The narrow definition is four-year university. The broad definition is any post-secondary education including apprenticeship in a trade. Whatever this means, it's out there as a target.

I've always wondered why we were using the WASL and now the HSPE to determine if students had the knowledge and skills that we expect a high school graduate to possess when we already had a test for that: the GED. I'm sure the GED is a target for a lot of students.

There has been a lot of talk of late about the sad situation in which high school graduates need to take remedial courses in college (at cost but without credit) because they couldn't pass the COMPASS test, so that is also out there as a target for high school graduates.

CORE24, the graduation requirements proposed by the State Board of Education, would insure that every graduate had the class credits needed to enter a four-year university. This is not an assessment target but it is a class and credit target for graduation.

Our current graduation requirements vary by school. Some schools require 20 credits, some 21. STEM requires 24 credits including math through calculus, four years of Language Arts and two years of a world language. Those are certainly targets for students to reach by graduation as well.

I'm sure there are other targets. Which of these targets are meaningful, useful, and worthwhile? Which should be targets for some students but not all students?

16 comments:

seattle said...

I don't like the mandatory college readiness (Core24) requirement. A student can already choose to take all of the classes needed to enter a 4 year college on their own if they want to - at any SPS high school.

Hale requires 23.5 credits to graduate.

Dorothy Neville said...

Related to this is a statistic that SchoolsFirst is bandying about in its PRO Levy spiel. SchoolsFirst is saying that only 17% of SPS HS graduates are ready for college. (?) I didn't get this, since seems to me that a much higher fraction of our high school graduates go to college. (am I right?)

So, listening carefully when Sharon Rodgers explained this in more detail, what she said was that only 17% of our HS graduates graduate with all the credit requirements for our state universities. So, only 17% of our graduates are eligible for state university? everyone else must go to community college or private college. Seriously, that's what she said. How many private colleges require less than our state system -- I believe we are talking things like 4 yrs LA, 3 math and science...)????

This was part of her push that we need more money for the district so we can maintain 6th period in high school.

Maureen said...

Dorothy did she actually say 17% of High School graduates? Or is it 17% of 18 year olds (or kids who begin HS or something other than graduates)? I've heard a version of that number before -but was never able to parse it out clearly.

Jet City mom said...

ve always wondered why we were using the WASL and now the HSPE to determine if students had the knowledge and skills that we expect a high school graduate to possess when we already had a test for that: the GED. I'm sure the GED is a target for a lot of students.

I've wondered that myself. I took the GED many years ago, after I dropped out of high school, and wanted to go to college. Think of all the dollars we could have spent on additional language classes. ( which is why a lowish % of students- I believe are prepared for instate college- our 4yr schools all require a minimum of two years of foreign language at the high school level to APPLY, not be accepted)

Even schools like Garfield have difficulty retaining foreign language teachers, and there aren't enough seats for the students who want to take the classes, let alone for the students who don't realize that they are needed for college application.

Jet City mom said...

Unfortunately in our district ( and many others) high schools bear the burden of getting kids to " standards", and students not supported to achieve those standards aren't always given many options- for instance- how many " alternative choices" do we have for middle & high school students?

While students develop at different rates ( and should be allowed to do so), and not everyone needs to go to college- I also am quite aware that most vocations which pay enough to earn a living, require an academic level at least equal to entrance to college.

I think we should work much more closely with the community colleges- as the excellent vocational programs many offer don't need to be duplicated in SPS and there are many advantages to taking courses with those who choose to attend a CC.

I fear that programs like STEM are just going to push the group of students out which need more support & attract students who would do well no matter where they attended high school.

While I think something like AP BC calculus should be available for any who want to take it, to require calc considering the spotty mathematics curriculum in SPS, seems disingenuous at best.

Does Lakeside require calculus for graduation? Does Reed or MIT require calculus for admission?
No- to both.

Dorothy Neville said...

Maureen, I am positive she said 17% of SPS HS graduates. And that just doesn't seem right, does it?

Jet City mom said...

I think we need more info about that number. SPS doesn't keep track of people who opt out of the district, or who never enter it at all but live in the city, somehow I am skeptical of numbers that indicate they are keeping track of courses students are taking, not just graduation rates.

Dorothy Neville said...

Bingo, Emeraldkity. I totally agree. The number just seems bogus to me. And the line that kids who do not have the requirements to get into state universities have to go to private colleges? Like Harvard, MIT, Whitman, Purdue...? poor kids.

Yet those are the sorts of "data" that the pro levy people can get away with with impunity, that's what people respond to emotionally.

Patrick said...

Obviously, many students who hope to go to 4-year colleges will be wanting to do well on the SATs and some AP tests.

MIT may not require calculus, but unless the student is a superstar in other ways I think a student who didn't have calculus would have trouble being admitted. And then once admitted, such a student would have a lot of trouble keeping up in most of their classes. I don't know if MIT offers remedial math, but high school or community college would be a lot cheaper way to learn that material.

Jet City mom said...

I agree that someone aiming to attend an extremely competitive and demanding science & technology institution should expect to have as much math & science as they can handle before admission.

Given that they accept less than 11% of applicants, I would be surprised if Seattle has many students attending in a given year.
If you look at the % of undergraduate diplomas of students who go on to attain a Ph.d in math/statistics, MIT is #5. Caltech which does require calc for admissions is #1, followed by Harvey Mudd, Reed College, UChicago, then MIT, and Harvard, Pomona, Rice, Princeton & Swarthmore respectively.

hschinske said...

I think MIT may have been a slip (can't imagine anyone being able to get in there without calculus, barring very unusual circumstances), but I'm sure it's possible to put together a very impressive college application without calculus, if you're not especially looking at math/science programs.

Helen Schinske

dan dempsey said...

"STEM requires 24 credits including math through calculus, four years of Language Arts and two years of a world language."

Peter Maier eventually sees 1000 students at Cleveland STEM.

Principal Princess Shareef says that Cleveland will be serving all students.

I interrupt this dreaming with a reality check.... OSPI annual testing at grade follows...


2008 (2009) 2010 for Black students’ pass rates:
Ballard: 25.0 (14.3) 26.9;
Cleveland: 6.3 (12.7) *5.7;
Franklin: 17.4 (12.9) 16.7;
Hale: 34.5 (33.3) 28.9;
Ingraham: 13.0 (13.7) 5.4;
Garfield: 22.5 (29.8) *16.7;**
Ranier : 21.6 (15.6) *3.9;
Roosevelt:31.0 (32.4) 28.1;
Sealth: 28.8 (17.9) 10.2;
WSeattle:17.3 (15.2) 6.1;
* UW NSF project assisted
** AP Magnet

2008 (2009) 2010 for Limited English Speaking students’ pass rates:

Ballard : 16.7 (17.2) 11.8;
Cleveland: 4.8 ( 0.0) *3.3;
Franklin: 23.5 ( 9.4) 13.2;
Hale: none
Ingraham: 35.5 (12.0) 3.0;
Garfield: 0.0 (16.7) 0.0;**
Ranier : none*
Roosevelt:46.4 (15.8) 6.7;
Sealth: 11.4 ( 6.3) 0.0;
W Seattle:19.0 (12.5) 6.7;

=====
A year ago, Seattle adopted OSPI non-recommended and State Board of Education rated "mathematically unsound" “Discovering Mathematics” for high school and OSPI pass rates plummeted from 24.2 percent to 12.4 percent for Seattle’s Black students and from 11.2 percent to 6.7 percent for Limited English students.

In the prior year (2009), Seattle Black students’ 10th grade pass rate was 85 percent of their middle school cohort rate, Limited English speakers passed at 94 percent of cohort rate. In 2010 the corresponding rates are 51 percent and 57 percent.

A school for all???? Did someone say Calculus? How about passing the OSPI tests for openers?

Apparently no one is minding the store ... far too busy making plans about CALCULUS to bother with the far too trivial stuff like reality.

Jet City mom said...

my point wasn't that math shouldn't be rigourous, my point was more if we are going to offer math/science high schools, we also need to offer alternatives to students, because even my child who wrote a science thesis @ Reed, didn't take 4 years of math in high school.

seattle citizen said...

As more and more students attempt college (everyone ready for college and work) and there being a finite number of slots, wouldn't universities raise the bar to lower the number of accepted applicants? Or do they merely keep the same bar (types and levels of classes successfully passed) and use other critieria to nix a larger percentage of students?

If they raise the bar, public schools would do well to follow suit...IF the bar is realistic in other applications - No sense taking ONLY HS college-prep college classes in one track (math, for instance) if one finds oneself not accepted to the desired program in any institution, or finds oneself unable to progress towards that field for other reasons.

Let's not forget that if ALL high schools prepare college-ready, single-discipline (again, math for instance) students, and ALL those students apply, where will they find a seat? If colleges expand to seat these students, where will the students work when they graduate?

I'm concerned that the emphasis on traditional college tracks begs the question: Where will they all work? I sometimes feel that society avoids the issue of this larger employment picture, and produces gluts of employees in some areas. Competitive, yes, but what about those who aren't in the top ten, say? What will THEY do?

Jet City mom said...

My H works @ Boeing building prototypes as a composite specialist. While his training has been on the job-new hires have certificates/degrees in aeronautics/composites manufacturing- offered at local community colleges.

They are expecting to hire many more in the next 10-20 years, even if they need to build more training facilities.

Ten years ago, the industry's largest age group was 35 to 44. In 2007, nearly 60 percent of the work force was 45 or older. At least 20 percent were between the ages of 55 to 64, and many, if not most, were already eligible for retirement.

seattle citizen said...

emerald, will there be a net INCREASE at Boeing that can handle the students how might be promised that their tech degree/cert will result in a job? That is what I was trying to get to in my last comment: What will the employment picture be in ten years? How many certs in this, how many degrees in that, how many non-degreed positions will be open in various "unskilled" positions?

My concern is that students are oversold on the various options. Yes, if they are hyper-competitive they might end up in the top ten percent or so who find jobs in their fields, but what about those who don't?

I fear that the lack of discussion about this, generally, masks a refusal to a) admit that many, many jobs are low-skilled; and b) we don't pay low-skilled workers living wages.

If we could somehow be honest and say, hey, this work over here is honest, it's a career you could live with....we wouldn't have to sell the idea of "tech this," and "degree that" to every student, setting them up to have to fail as their job doesn't materialize.

But we can't have that conversation until we face the fact that the vast majority of citizens are underpiad, especially in comparison with those who are OVERpaid.

People should be able to make a living wage in any field they choose, and we could thereby avoid setting up arbitrary and unrealistic expectations about certs and degrees.