Remedial problems in college

A story in Sunday’s paper showed that as more high schools inflate students’ grades, kids enter college lacking basic English and math skills.

As a result, these high school graduates take remedial college classes to learn what they failed to master in high school.

Students must pay to take these classes, which often don’t count toward the credits they need for a college degree. This increases the amount of time – and money – needed for college.

The article focuses on grade inflation as the culprit for this problem, but it is not the only factor.

Could it be that some students aren’t in the right college?

The mantra elected leaders and school officials repeat is that students should be prepared to attend post-secondary education after high school. That could include four-year, two-year and technical colleges.

But it seems as if most kids are pushed into four-year programs, regardless of whether it is the right fit.

What else do you think is causing an increase in the number of college students needing remedial classes? What can be done to fix this problem?

102 comments Add your comment

LSH

May 4th, 2009
8:43 am

I read the article in the paper and was angered by Kathy Cox’s claims that teachers have been “kowtowing to low expectations”. She also claimed that the teachers were expected to teach the state standards.
What are high school teachers supposed to do when kids are passed along in elementary school without mastering the needed skills? How can the 10th grade Algebra II teacher teach the “standards” when the kids in his/her classroom can’t do fractions? Does the teacher stop and teach fractions? That is not the “standard”, but it has to be mastered before the kids can go on to Algebra. How on earth can the high school English teacher teach Shakespeare when the kids in the class read at a 4th grade level? If the teacher were to doggedly try to ram down Shakespeare, and all the kids started failing and complaining, you can sure bet the principal would be down there in two seconds warning the teacher about his or her job.
Public school teachers teach the kids we get, not the kids we wish we had. We take whatever and whoever walks into our room and we do the best we can with them. I’m not kowtowing to anything- I’m a teacher and I’ll teach- anybody anything. But don’t tell me that I’m not teaching state “standards” when I don’t have kids ready to met those standards.

Ernest

May 4th, 2009
9:26 am

Unfortunately some perceive that saying college is not right (at least immediately after HS) for every student means you have low expectations. There are some who recall some students being ‘directed’ to the old ‘vo tech’ programs without really performing an assessment of that students actual abilities. I prefer to say that everyone should have post high school education albeit at a career technology school or college.

While many school districts are adding career technology programs and providing opportunities for students to attain work place certification, it will still be important for continuing education in order to be competitive in the global workforce.

Reality

May 4th, 2009
9:32 am

Hmmmmmm. Shouldn’t everyone see the relationship between this blog topic and the recent one about college’s not using the SAT or ACT as an admissions criteria? The SAT/ACT is a tool that levels the playing field for ALL students regardless of how their individual high school may have inflated grades.

The students from these high schools – the ones that inflate grades – end up at the better colleges only to find that they need remediation and/or flunk out. It is not fair to the student or the college.

And, it isn’t the high schools fault either. Teachers are pressured to inflate grades. This pressure comes from the students, the parents, and the administration. It takes a very strong teacher, indeed, to hold their ground when it comes to fair assessment.

As a high school teacher, I have had the following issues with grades/grading…… I should not grade homework for accuracy. Just give them a 100 for effort……. I should add 3 points onto a course average of 67 so that the child can pass….. I should add 2 points onto a course average of 88 so that the child can make an A….. I could go on and on.

Clueless

May 4th, 2009
9:37 am

The original plan was that if the student did not pass the EOCT, he/she did not get credit for the course. This looks like a good reason to implement that plan.

HS Teacher, Too

May 4th, 2009
9:41 am

Are we really going to rehash this topic again? Anyone who has taught high school with an ounce of integrity and tried to hold on to even a glimmer of rigor knows that the advent of the HOPE Scholarship contributed to this phenomenon in innumerable ways. Reality’s last two paragraphs are dead-on and I can’t think of a high school teacher who hasn’t been in the same boat.

The bottom line is that the kids need remediation because we have dumbed down our courses so that every child can be “college prep.” We have mysterious scales on our EOCTS so that understanding just how well you did in terms that make sense to the masses is close to impossible. We spend more time testing than we do teaching. And we race to check topics off our “covered it” lists without being given time to teach the material, or for students to learn the material. But it’s supposed to shock us that our kids get to college woefully unprepared? Really?

Gwinnett Parent

May 4th, 2009
10:08 am

The watering down does not stop in high school. Universities are also weakening their requirements past the freshman year. The business program I graduated from in 1995 required 3 Accounting classes, one junior level in addition to 3 Economics classes, one senior level. Calculus was also a requirement. The year I graduated the upper level Accounting and Economics requirements were eliminated, as well as Calculus. My husband just finished a similar program at GSU. It was definetly watered down. It is not fair to the previous alums that were forced to take the more rigorous classes. Unfortunately, the watered down degree holds the same weight. We need to stop catering to those that cannot make it at 4yr colleges. Not everyone is university material. We need to encourage some students to go to technical school.

Lee

May 4th, 2009
10:13 am

The solution is obvious, colleges should relax their standards to match those of the high schools.

I’m joking, of course.

Years ago, the politically correct pathogens wrested control away from the common sense folks and began their march toward the “everybody’s equal” utopia. What you see today are the results of that misguided effort.

Everybody points the finger at NCLB in this mess. However, they fail to remember that NCLB was an attempt to address the fact that public schools were graduating illiterates. Unfortunately, NCLB has only made matters worse (sorta like the medieval practice of blood letting to cure disease).

Colleges shoulder some of the blame in this mess as well. The politically correct determined that they should admit the less qualified in order to obtain some obscure diversity quota. Plus, the more students they admit, the more revenue they generate.

Here’s the cold, hard truth:

1. Every student is not destined for college. Many are not even destined for technical school. There are some who face a lifetime of manual labor and/or menial jobs. That is their lot in life.

2. Change the HOPE Scholarship to a reimbursement system where the student pays their tuition up front and gets reimbused based on whether or not they passed the class will eliminate that source of grade inflation pressure.

3. Every metric I have seen (IQ, EOCT, SAT/ACT, CRCT, et al) exhibits certain trends with regards to the demographic data. Unfortunately, until the politically correct among us allow a frank, honest dialog about these results, nothing will ever get accomplished and public schools will continue their spiral to oblivion.

4. There are some students who would be better served by dropping out and getting their GED.

5. Success after high school has its roots in success in the elementary grades. Unfortunately, the public school model is to create a “balanced classroom” where the future valedictorian is sitting beside the barely functional SPED student who is sitting beside the illegal alien ESOL student who is sitting beside the cronic troublemaker who has no desire to be in school. Good luck learning in that environment.

Don’t worry though, Oblahma’s gonna print up some more stimulus money and make everything all better because according to some, all we need to do is to spend more money on education.

Sandi Eichler

May 4th, 2009
10:18 am

I am a middle school remedial math teacher in Cartersville. LSH expressed my thoughts perfectly. I cannot for the life of me see how Kathy Cox expects us to meet standards in Middle School when the students are not even coming close to mastering the standards in elementary! And the cycle will continue until something is done about it.

AP Teacher

May 4th, 2009
10:32 am

And to piggyback what others have said already – how do you expect us in high school to teach the standards when we get students who have been pushed through elementary school and middle school?! I teach a gifted math course, and I have a student right now who came from a different school system at the beginning of this semester, who should actually retake Algebra I. When I suggested to the parent that the student should get a tutor, she told me that it was my job to remediate (in a gifted class) and get her daughter where she needed to be! How can I teach the standards AND reteach a year of Algebra I to one student?

Furthermore – we are definitely told not to give a grade of 69, and to drop homework averages if the student is failing with a 67 or a 68. I remember “back in the day” when you got the grade that you earned, not the one that Mommy or Daddy demanded or the one that gives the principal a high pass rate…

Gwinnett Educator

May 4th, 2009
10:37 am

**I am off work today** I am an elementary teacher and I totally agree with the middle/high school teachers. I am SO OVER being aggravated with the way we pass the students along in elementary schools. It isn’t rocket science that they have already been set up to fail. I’ve been saying (before I left Dekalb) that if we were to honestly start failing students that need to fail..the lower grades would SWELL and everyone would be stuck in K, 1, and maybe 2. These students are babied all year long. They aren’t expected to do their absolute best and have already been trained to think that we will accept whatever BECAUSE..they ‘tried’.

My students aren’t anywhere near where they need to be for the next grade. It isn’t just my class..I have worked with what I was given and have done my absolute BEST! I can only do so much when they don’t know the alphabet, let alone the sounds, or cannot recognize their numbers to 20.

Clueless

May 4th, 2009
10:37 am

Anyone notice that according to the State’s 2008 Testing Newsletter, a student has to be reading at a higher level to get “Pass Plus” on the 6th grade CRCT than to get it on the GHSGT?

Maybe it’s a typo. Or maybe not.

Gwinnett Educator

May 4th, 2009
10:42 am

Ooops..I meant to add..along with not recognizing numbers…they are supposed to be able to master 2 digit addition/subtraction. How can they compare numbers if they don’t know what 35 is?

I have totally forgotten about the middle/high school teachers and their plight because I am so angry with ours. I cannot begin to imagine the frustration of teaching middle/high school and not being able to do what is needed because of YEARS of unmastered skills were left behind.

V for Vendetta

May 4th, 2009
10:51 am

How long will it be before another “study” comes out showing some type of “success” in Georgia schools? After Sunday’s article, I’d give it a week or two before we see such a claim from Kathy Cox or a county super such as Alvin Wilbanks. However they spin it, I hope that the majority of Georgians realize that they’re both dead wrong. Numbers can be manipulated, but the inescapable truth is that education in Georgia, and the United States as a whole, has been dangerously slipping since the implementation of NCLB.

Where do you think this “college or nothing” attitude comes from? It comes from our politicos, educrats, and moronic lawmakers who think you can legislate intelligence, results, and success. Sorry, boys, but you can’t spin gold out of a sow’s ear, no matter how hard you try. The most obvious solution is the privitization of the system to remove it from inane government meddling and “progressive programs.” However, since that’s not likely to occur any time soon, the only other viable solution is CHOICE. I’m only partially talking about school choice here. What I really mean by “choice” is OPTIONS.

We’ve created a stigma around Technical training, equating it with educational depravity, personal stupidity, and financial poverty, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Students who desire, who CRAVE, technical training are not be served. Take Gwinnett for example:

There are more than seventeen high schools that will be serving students next year (not including the GIVE centers and Phoenix). Out of seventeen high schools, by far the state’s largest district, there are only TWO programs fully dedicated to Technical education–Maxwell and Grayson. TWO!

In a comprehensive and progressive system, the number should be closer to a third (or roughly six techincal programs). But Gwinnett is not the exception to the rule, they are the norm. This is how Technical education is treated all over the state–and the nation!

Nothing changes until the options available to the students change. After that, we can hold the college prep. kids to rigorous standards. The technical students will receive an education that works for them. And the kids who drop out won’t be losers mixed with smart kids who were bored and kids who wanted to go to a technical college early. The dropouts will just be losers, and there will be less of them.

It’s not rocket science, so how come nobody has done anything about it?

Tony

May 4th, 2009
10:56 am

Another problem, that so far does not seem to have been mentioned, is that colleges allow unqualified students to enter. Do you think they have recognized a cash cow? Students have to take the remedial courses, pay for them, and they still have to take all the required classes? It’s not just the teachers and schools who are at fault.

Grade inflation is bad, but I recognize many teachers are pressured by bad administration to “pass” as many kids as possilbe. These men and women should think about the consequences of giving kids something for nothing. What are we teaching them?

Gifted/AP/Advanced content courses in high school are not places for remediation. The teacher bemoaning that situation should have been backed by the principal to have the student placed in another course.

jim d

May 4th, 2009
11:09 am

will share my thoughts on this subject after we see grades for last final on tuesday

Old School

May 4th, 2009
11:17 am

What do we expect? Our culture doesn’t believe in allowing anyone to fail – even if it’s due to their own lack of discipline or effort. You can’t recognize honor students because other will feel bad, you can’t play games that make students feel like losers, everyone should have high self esteem whether it’s earned or not. Because, of course, life isn’t like that!

Our kids are turnig out ill-prepared for life because of the attitude that everyone should be passed along and no one should feel bad because of lack of effort.

For this reason, both our kids went to private school – where the teachers had expectations and, if they weren’t met, consequences would be felt. When they went to college (and one did lose the Hope scholarship) they both felt better prepared for college than their public school classmates. And there were consequences for losing the Hope Scholarship. The spending money we gave him was reduced since we had to pick up extra expenses without the Hope. Life comes with consequences, we would do our children a favor by teaching them that lesson earlier, rather than later.

dbow

May 4th, 2009
11:19 am

Here’s my two cents worth. I teach middle school math and the farce is perpetuated over and again. We have a no zero policy implemented by the principal. It’s unofficial of course since she can’t force teachers to change grades, but any teacher that’s been around knows that unofficial just means do it or your life will be made miserable. So, I have kids who do no work and they get a 50. Wonderful. Then when they fail a test they get four, five, six or how ever many chances they need to pass a test. How is that fair? We’re switching to a standards based report card and formatives will count for nothing and summatives will count 100%. So, the kids will get even more chances to pass a test that they know nothing about until they pass. It’s not grade inflation when the kid gets this many chances to pass, it’s all smoke and mirrors to make the principal and the district look good. And all the while, Kathy Cox sits on her throne in her ivory tower casting dispersions down upon the peons for not teaching the standards properly and accusing us of inflating grades. It may sound cliche to say when I was a kid they did it a certain way, but it really was a better education back then. It was quality versus quantity and if you didn’t do the work there were real consequences. Today, the kids get a pass on everything including behavior.

jim d

May 4th, 2009
11:21 am

And then there’s this.

Matters only worsen.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30556276/

Meme

May 4th, 2009
11:33 am

In 1968, when I entered college, I was required to take a remedial math class. I went in on Mondays and picked up the assignments and tested on Fridays. I made a A in the class. We just thought it was another way for the University system to make money.

Vince

May 4th, 2009
11:52 am

Why look at just the negative? I noticed my kids’ high school in Gwinnett was one with a low “first year in college remediation” rate. The school (Dacula) also scored well in the “grade inflation” report back in February. Both explain why my kids’ professors in college rave about their skills and knowledge. My daughter and son both tell me college is a breeze compared to what they had to do in high school. Way to go Gwinnett!

Dr. John Trotter

May 4th, 2009
12:40 pm

Students actually need remedial tutoring when they arrive at college? Ah, come on. Surely this is not happening in places like DeKalb County. Let’s just look at DeKalb County since it is well-represented when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s staff examined schools where students made A’s for the course but flunked the End-of-the-Course Standardized Examination. Yes, DeKalb was well-represented on that list as it is now well-represented on the list which shows the percentage of students from metro Atlanta high schools who need remediation in their first year enrolled in Georgia public colleges. DeKalb has four (4) high schools in the top ten; ten (10) high schools in the top twenty; and fifteen (15) high schools in the top thirty. I’d say, DeKalb (Houston), we have a problem. Your graduates cannot hack it in college. You must have a lot of grade inflation taking place…like this is news to us.
The teachers get the message…they know that they are expected to just give students good grades, whether they are earned them or not. One of the criteria for No Child Left Behind is the number of children who fail. Therefore, DeKalb’s glorious administration under the dubious “leadership” of Crawford Lewis has apparently decided to make sure that students do not fail…again, regardless of what the students do or don’t do. (Might I suggest that the same thing takes place each day in the Atlanta Public Schools, but we all know that some cockamamie committee “named” Beverly Hall as “Superintendent of the Year.” Hmm. I suppose I too could be named a Soviet Cosmonaut.) The teachers know that their jobs literally hang in the balance. Just give out grades like a neighborly spinster gives out Halloween candy. If you don’t, then lo and behold! You find yourself being written up for the most minor occurrences by mean and nasty administrators (those adjective were not chosen lightly). Angry and abusive administrators start writing you up…first on classroom observations (wow, it’s so easy to bubble in a “Needs Improvement” on “Building for Transfer”), then you are put on an onerous Professional Development Plan (PDP), and you are eventually given an “Unsatisfactory” (again, any nitwit can bubble this in). You are on your way to being corporately executed…all because you did not have enough sense to understand the winky-winky given to you by the administration. They want you to give out good grades. Enough of this principled (no pun intended) teaching with integrity! This is a liability in the public schooling process, especially in school systems like DeKalb.
Well, perhaps Crawford Lewis will wring his hands and act like he has never heard of grade inflation or was ever even suspect of it. Who wants to believe this fanciful notion? We met with a teacher not long ago who told us that she was getting much pressure to give out grades (grades which the students had not learned). We showed up at her school, and the administration evidently backed off of her. Just this past week, we were representing a teacher from Clarkston High School in a grievance. When the Central Office Staff (under the “leadership” of State Senator Ron Ramsey) got wind that a salient feature of this teacher’s grievance was his contention that systematic cheating was taking place, all of a sudden, the good Senator apparently did not want the grievance to go forward, and the teacher had every right to have the grievance to go forward. The grievance law (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.), passed in 1992, is very easy to read and understand. “…the complainant is entitled to be heard, to present relevant evidence, and to examine witness at each level” (OCGA 20-2989.8[4]). What is it that the good Senator could not understand? Perhaps he understood that his boss, Crawdaddy Lewis, did not want to hear any more bad news. The administration in “Premier” DeKalb seems to be supersensitive to criticism at this juncture, especially in light of the fact a Fifth Grader recently took his own life apparently because he was not getting any relief from bullying at school. Perhaps this “Premier” DeKalb administration does not like the anti-bullying statutes on the books as well. These administrators obviously do not like the statutes dealing with teacher grievances. Well, MACE has some special ways that it deals with “candy _ss” administrators who are afraid to go by the law.
I do indeed believe that “Premier” DeKalb (as it laughably calls itself) administrators sweep flagrant and egregious disciplinary problems under the proverbial rug. The discipline (or lack thereof) borders on the criminal side. I heard last year that a gang came off the street and into one of the DeKalb high schools and gave a “premier” pistol-whipping to a Ninth Grader. The DeKalb schools are just not safe. But, the administration apparently had rather sweep serious matters under the rug…kids beating up and bullying other kids, administrators making teachers grade the tests of students who have been caught “red-handed” cheating, kids cursing out and roughing up teachers, etc. Remember: DeKalb is “premier” because it probably paid untold thousands of dollars to an ad agency to come up with the laughable “Premier DeKalb” designation. I can call myself “Dale Carnegie,” but I am still John Trotter.
Perhaps Mark Elgart and his “crack investigators” will cast their long and ominous shadows across I-285 and into “Premier” DeKalb. There’s no telling what the boys and girls from SACS will find if they turn over a few of those Stone Mountain boulders. Personally, I think the DeKalb County School System is rotten to the core. It is getting worse. Right now, it, along with the Atlanta Public Schools, are the two worst-run school systems in Georgia – and perhaps even in the Southeastern United States. They are much worse than the Clayton County Schools, but for some inexplicable reason, Mark Elgart and his SACS minions decided to pick on Clayton County alone. It probably stems from the Mark Elgart connection to Dan Colwell (Clayton superintendent to was fired in January of 2003) and Ericka Davis (who apparently wanted use Mark Elgart and SACS to get her way, especially when she began losing power). But, if these disparities in the grades and the standardized test scores (and the inordinate number of students who have to get remedial help in Georgia public colleges) do not get Mark Elgart’s attention, then perhaps that Fifth Grader taking his own life allegedly because he got no relief from school officials (even after his mother registered a complaint) will touch his cold Alpharetta heart. Or, does Mark Elgart (of SACS) just want to keep using Clayton County as his token? ©MACE,2009 http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

Ernest

May 4th, 2009
12:48 pm

Vince, congratulations on the success your children are having. I believe we look at the ‘negatives’ because we are expecting a greater ROI of our tax dollars. I’m embarrassed that the school my children attend was in the upper third of that list. Though I know my children will do well once in college, I am concerned also about the ‘false hope’ we are giving many of our children regarding their academic abilities.

I am concerned with how businesses look at that information. That kind of information ‘could’ influence them regarding where to set up shop thus providing employment opportunities. Who would want to open a business in an area perceived to have significant grade inflation.

As usual, interesting comments from the teachers that participate. I also have concerns about what is happening in ’some’ of our elementary schools. It is reasonable to question whether they leave elementary school equipped to succeed in later grades. I’ve spoken to many middle school teachers that complain about the amount of remediation they have to do.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

May 4th, 2009
1:24 pm

Could it be that many students don’t value their educational opportunities, don’t study while in school, and consequently perform poorly on tests which measure their knowledge against today’s reasonable, real-world-based curricular standards and against the knowledge obtained by their peers in other parts of the U.S. and the world?

Old School

May 4th, 2009
1:27 pm

jimdear and others: please know that the comments made by “Old School” are NOT by me. Evidently someone likes my screen name enough to appropriate it.

jim d

May 4th, 2009
1:44 pm

No problem sweetie

To the original Old School

May 4th, 2009
1:52 pm

I heartily apologize, I am not a regular on this blog and was drawn to visit after reading the article about grade inflation. I didn’t realize the screen name was taken.

We must think alike – on screen names anyway!

Reality

May 4th, 2009
2:18 pm

I think that most of these posts hit the nail on the head. We must start now, in 1st grade, giving fair assessments to students and grading them accordingly. If a student doesn’t know the content, they should fail, period. If parents nor administrators refuse to stand up for what is right, then it is up to the teachers/educators.

Whenever I talk to my “boss” principal at my high school about my class scores, I point out that the standardized scores align well with the students grade in my class. Then, I ask if they prefer for the class grade to be much higher or much lower than the standardized score? This will make them back pedal real fast!

DB

May 4th, 2009
2:37 pm

I still think that grades would improve considerably if a student had to repay their HOPE grant if they did not get a 3.0. Part of the problem is that many kids today are not mature enough or emotionally prepared enough for the independent study and living expected by colleges and universities. They don’t know how to study (they never had to in high school), they don’t know how to budget their time (since every moment for their entire life has been blocked out for them, from day care, to school to after school programs to organized sports leagues, etc., etc.), they complain if the professors actually give them the grade they deserve and don’t give a flip what it does to their scholarship, and they think that they aren’t holding up their end as college students unless they are getting blindingly drunk four days a week, or staying up all night playing World of Warcraft and missing classes left and right the next morning.

You can’t remediate immaturity. Sometimes life just has to smack you upside the head a few times before you get it.

My son at college was shocked at a friend’s illiteracy when he was asked to look over a paper. “Mom, the grammar and punctuation was so bad, I didn’t even know where to start.” My son handed the paper back and said, “Sorry, but it’s so bad, I don’t think there’s anything I can do for it, I’d have to rewrite it completely, and I’m not willing to do that.” Friend got angry, but admitted that his parents had rewritten almost every paper he “wrote” in high school.

My question is: WHY do colleges offer remedial classes in the first place? To me, that’s a shocking waste of limited resources, and if I were an admissions director, I would be humiliated that kids had slipped in under my admissions criteria radar. If a student can’t hack college-level work, then they flunk out and have to figure out something else to do with their life. It’s called “consequences.”

Reality

May 4th, 2009
3:08 pm

DB – Isn’t the answer to your question obvious? Some college earn big bucks by getting students that need remediation. Please understand that I am not talking about the GA Techs or even the UGAs. I am talking about the middle level colleges that rely on the average student to survive. And, when there aren’t enough average students, that leaves below average that need remediation.

Do you honestly think that all students attending Piedmont College, West GA College, or GA Southern are really college material? This is no insult to them because they are serving a good purpose and service for those people wanting more and “better” education. But, let’s face reality here…..

motherjanegoose

May 4th, 2009
3:33 pm

DB….loved the rewrite story. We personally know a 21 year old whose Mother is writing his college papers….HELLO?
My kids are in Gwinnett. When we visited Auburn ( before my son went to UGA) we were told:
we love students from your school in Gwinnnett County Ga, as they are prepared to handle the course rigor in college…. they looked at his SAT score and said he was in…did not even have to apply, except for the formality!
He decided to attend UGA but did take a few summer classes at Perimeter College here in the metro and told me,
“those classes were easier than my high school classes… and nothing like UGA.”
For what it is worth…I work in some Kindergartens where the students cannot speak or comprehend English by THIS TIME OF YEAR and yes they are passed to first grade…..HELLO?
Whose fault it this?

Harper's Mama

May 4th, 2009
3:51 pm

I find it ironic that Kathy Cox says in one breath that we have kowtowed to low expectations for too long, and in the other breath she says that it is okay for a kid to “mess around” all semester and still pass (assuming that he/she meets the standards). So why bother having teacher made assessments at all? Why not just teach and then have the kids take a state test? That would save me a lot of grading!!!!!!!!!!!Or we could give them teh test, and if the child passes, we could just send them on to the next grade!
Superintendent Cox needs to get her head out of the clouds. She needs to stop blaming teachers and start looking into her own back yard for answers to these questions.

bl

May 4th, 2009
4:34 pm

Another issue — how is the state’s raising of standards (i.e. the implementation of the new, “more rigorous” math curriculum) going to help anybody with anything when apparently the kids were unable to master the old, allegedly less rigorous curriculum? There’s a huge disconnect here.

catlady

May 4th, 2009
4:56 pm

Here is what I see from an elementary perspective: We are told to do “needs based instruction” for the kids who are not on grade level IN ADDITION to the grade level instruction. The problem is, for many subjects the skills are SEQUENTIAL, so if they are operating on a 1st grade level in math, they AREN:T going to get very many of the 4th grade GPS. And no matter how much effort you put into needs based, if their need is for 3 years of math instruction plus the current year, they ARE NOT going to be anywhere near grade level at the end of the year. Until we have certain DEMANDS for mastery that MUST be accomplished before going on, we cannot expect many students to be ready to do middle or high school work. Until we hold students back who fail to meet mastery of basic skills/facts, we will continue to see what we have now. I know it is a startling idea for some of the CO and state office staff, but one skill frequently builds on another! If you don’t have basic things MASTERED you will not successfully be able to do any more than we are told to do now: to EXPOSE the children to the GPS curricula. I kid you not. Those are the very words!

Last year I worked with 4th and 5th grade math students whose math skills were on 1st and 2nd grade levels; ie, ask them what 3+5 is and wait for them to count on their fingers (not always correctly). When I was in school, back in the dark ages, you had to demonstrate mastery of the addition and subtraction facts to 10 before leaving first grade. Now, the upper elementary teachers are trying to address these basic skills while simultaneously teaching two digit multiplication, for example.

In reading we have third graders who cannot decode simple 5 letter words (ie, snack or steal), first grade skills, but here they are floundering in 3rd grade. (And we are a Reading First system, with 2 hours and 20 minutes of active, diadactic reading only instruction each day for 180 days) Now, they will fail the CRCT, but they will still, every one of them, be placed in 4th grade, where they will again be unable to read their textbooks, unable to do math word problems. And next year’s teacher will try again to remediate years of behindedness, while still teaching about the Cherokee Indian’s removal from Georgia.

Please don’t fault the elementary teachers. They are as frustrated as you are. Maybe moreso, because we are also trying to get students the help they need through the rediculous “process” of RTI (Codename: Deny every child the help they need).

When will someone in position of power realize the stool has 3 legs, not just one?

Old School

May 4th, 2009
5:26 pm

To Old School 2: no problem. Just be prepared to get your ears pinned back from time to time.

Here’s what’s going on in my area: several teachers at my school have been “encouraged” to resign for high failure rates. Grades get changed without first going through proper channels. But my biggest concern is credit recovery. Students who have a 65 to 69 can show up for a few days, go through the motions and TA DAH! their grades become 70! It doesn’t matter that they still haven’t done the work or learned the material and will likely bomb the graduation test. They passed with a 70 and get credit for the course.

Makes me miss the old days when kids got Ds which were still passing but everyone (especially colleges) knew it was BELOW AVERAGE. A 70 was a C and only average. Maybe we should bring back the D; allow more kids to graduate which will boost numbers and make lots of folks happy; and bring back the F word: FAILURE. There are ample opportunities for students to do what it takes to pass. We’ll hurt for a few years but once everyone figures out that the rigor isn’t going away and everyone is accountable, students will come into my class knowing what an inch is and how to divide a fraction in half and maybe. . . just maybe able to read on or near grade level!

fedup

May 4th, 2009
5:35 pm

The article should cause an uproar by taxpayers and business representatives. Why fund a worthless education? Over the past few years I have witnessed teachers bullied into passing students for the sake of the graduation rate. Most teachers do not agree with No Zeros policies, but what choice does one have when his or her job is threatened. Do taxpayers and business leaders realize these policies are alive and well at most Georgia schools. “No Zeros” promote tardiness, poor attendance, lack of responsibility, poor quality work and disregard for deadlines. Is this what we want out of our future employees? If a teacher requires typed assignments why can’t the teacher REQUIRE it? Why don’t the administrators back up the teacher? The typing may not be required by the standard, but it is standard practice in the real world to produce a quality product. Why do teachers have to accept CRAP? Why aren’t students held to attendance policies? Do employers provide attendance contracts to employees missing too many days of work? No, employers don’t pay you if you don’t show up to work. Why can’t schools follow the same policies. Do employers have credit recovery policies for employees not completing assignments? No, they get replaced. When are taxpayers going to rise up in outrage and demand change? The “standards” for our students are LOW.

Evil Old English Teacher

May 4th, 2009
6:27 pm

So I guess I’ll be the bad guy and bring up the dirty words: The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) hurts students. There–I said it. Gather the kindling, stoke the fire, and erect the stake. I’ll strap myself to it. It would be better to burn alive at the hands of those that claim they are “helping kids” than watch the ship of education go down the way it is.

You know–I have seen so many kids come in with “disabilities.” Sadly, that word now means they “just can’t turn things in” or “have trouble completing work on time.” It used to be that those lessons would be learned-either through failure or through success but they held consequence. Now, these academic faults are now labeled disabilities that require “accommodations.” These accommodations are interpreted to mean that as a teacher, I am required by federal law to ignore deadlines, take half-way completed and often illegible work, allow students to take and re-take tests, and generally throw my ethics as a teacher out the window.

Public or private–doesn’t matter. I am put in the classroom and paid by the community to teach the children in the area that my school services. However, when the federal IDEA gets involved, parents are allowed to wield an unfairly powerful sword against teachers, administrators, counselors, and by extension the tax payers. Teachers are legally not ALLOWED to say no. To say no, would be to deny a child his/her equal access to education–no matter the bogus diagnosis.

(ha that [slant] rhymed!)

The saddest part? Schools know. Teachers know. Administrators and counselors know. Our hands are tied in the face of IDEA. I can not fight the lobby of special education parents to ensure that little Amy learns her lesson when she does not turn in a single report all year long. Unfortunately, because of little Amy’s “accommodations” she is allowed to turn in everything in the last 3 weeks of school. Amy’s parents say it is my fault she didn’t turn it in. Never mind the webpage where assignments are posted, or the calendars, the emails, the phone calls–none of it is as important as little Amy’s sense of “you can do it.”

I do not say this without knowledge of the needs of Special Education. I am the sister, the aunt, and the daughter of Autistics. I have seen the good that IDEA has brought for my family. However–the purpose of IDEA was NEVER to provide an easy weapon against schools. It was NEVER meant to be used to give students and parents a way to bully schools (and honestly the communities they serve) into making exceptions to ethical obligations. It was meant to ensure quality education for students in a way that was appropriate. I know my brother will never complete a sentence on paper. He can tie his shoes and recite his phone number. He is 23 and happily lives with my parents. IDEA made that happen and we couldn’t be more satisfied. That is what IDEA was supposed to do.

I’m a teacher and I’m mad–but as a taxpayer who is being bullied by a group of parents that could care less about the purpose and goal of education–aren’t you even more angry?

ScienceTeacher671

May 4th, 2009
6:32 pm

It’s pretty obvious that we teachers know what the problem is – our standards are too low, and even then, they are not being enforced.

The question is, is anyone at the GaDOE listening? And if so, what do they intend to do about it?

Evil Old English Teacher

May 4th, 2009
7:16 pm

posted a comment at 6:00 PM and it has disappeared…must be the Blog monster [Censor]

DB

May 4th, 2009
7:27 pm

RE: Remedial classs. If these “remedial” classes are solving the problem, gee, then maybe we need to be looking at how a remedial class can teach in one semester all those things that a kid couldn’t pick up in four years of high school education? (sarcasm, there).

MJG: Mommy is probably calling him every morning at 8 am to wake his butt up for class, too. (Maybe she’s hiding cookies in the cannon, a la MacArthur’s mom?!)

DB

May 4th, 2009
7:28 pm

Evil Old English Teacher (love that name!): It will show up eventually. Sometimes it takes a while.

Evil Old English Teacher

May 4th, 2009
7:42 pm

DB- it was a rant so perhaps the had to detach the soapbox before posting. (That would explain the delay).

Evil Old English Teacher

May 4th, 2009
7:42 pm

*they – pardon the typo

ScienceTeacher671

May 4th, 2009
7:48 pm

What’s not clear to me from the article is whether the colleges and the students knew the students would need remedial courses at the time the students were admitted – and how it was decided that the students needed remediation to do college-level work.

If the students were admitted with the understanding they would need remediation, the colleges have noone to blame but themselves, it seems…and if it’s too expensive to offer this remediation, perhaps it’s time to raise the price on remedial courses, or not admit students who don’t meet the criteria for admission.

Lost for Words

May 4th, 2009
8:17 pm

The entire Georgia Education System is a sham and farce or should I say the United States. First of all, Elementary Schools and Parents are where the problems start. Elementary Schools fail children because teachers to often give grades because Johnny sits quiet and he does the best he can on his work. Then, Mary is a smart girl but her behavior is terrible and she gets all the breaks in the world because she is an A student. By the time Johnny and Mary get in 5th grade – Johnny has A’s and B’s but can’t read or add and subtract and Mary is a smart girl but she is now cursing out the teachers, walk out of class and tell the teacher what she is not going to do. They allow children in elementary school to do anything and they want teachers to change grades to please parents. Johnny, mom is the VP of the PTA so the teachers feel intimidated and afraid to tell them that Johnny can’t read. This is what we have in elementary school. Until, the Principals and teachers be real and the system allow teachers to truly and really do their jobs you will continue to have children being pushed on because of their good behavior with A’s and B’s but can’t read or write a five word sentence and don’t mention add or subtract. Then, you will still have behavior problems that goes unnoticed in elementary school because the Principals hands are tied. Wake up Kathy Cox and all your big time Staff and see Education in Georgia for what it really is “F”.

V for Vendetta

May 4th, 2009
8:23 pm

Because many college classes, even undergrad courses, assign no more than five or six grades over the course of a semester, I propose that we change high school classes to some variation of the following.

Ninth grade: 15 assignments per semester

Tenth grade: 12 assignments per semester

Eleventh grade: 10 assignments per semester

Twelfth grade: 8 assignments per semester.

The values of the assignments could be determined by the individual teacher based on the subject taught. It would promote accountability (no more meaningless homework grades) and prepare students for the next step in their educational careers.

Georgia

May 4th, 2009
8:33 pm

Let’s talk about the big test…CRCT.. can Kathy Cox or someone on her staff please tell me why do we give the CRCT? Please tell me why they stress students and teachers out with the CRCT when it is a joke. They make the big speech about if students in 3rd and 5th grade fail the CRCT they will be RETAINED>> This is just a Joke and a Myth and the children as well as the parents know it. The students do not care because they have seen to many of their neighbors and friends go on to 4th and 6th grade without passing the test. This is a joke and then, a kid could make F’s all year and pass one test and go on to the next grade is also dumb. This is one reason why children do not put forth any effort in school because they know all they need to do is pass the CRCT or come within a point or two and they will be promoted anyway. First of all Kathy, you all need to get on One Accord if a child fails the test then they will Repeat the grade regardless of how many times they fail the test. 2. You all will allow teachers to teach and then you all will go back to the basics “See Dick Run” and “Run Dick Run”. Something should be in place for children to be successful and pass on to the next grade but it must be something that represents what the child has been taught during the year. The curriculum for the State of Georgia sucks and it is No Way that the teachers have enough time to teach all the skills children need to be successful. In 5th grade teachers teach a new math skill everyday. How in the world can children truly understand a skill taught in one day with no time for reinforcement. When you were coming up Kathy, you didn’t have to learn a skill in one day, you were taught one skill a week with much repetition but not today. All the teachers do in Georgia is introduce a student to a skill/concept and move on they do not teach for Mastery. Mastery is what students should be taught not just See it and Move on to something New. Kathy, you all need to use real teachers and allow teachers and principals to tell you all the truth about the curriculum because it is failing our kids in Georgia at an all time High. Speak to Real People and I am sure you can find some teachers that will tell you the truth and not be afraid of losing their job. You all need help with this mess of an Education in Goergia because we are at the Bottom of the barrell and even our A students graduating has trouble entering college and feel left out and behind. Use the stimulus money and get a new Curriculum and definitely a New Math Series for Elementary Schools.

catlady

May 4th, 2009
8:42 pm

Many senior level universities no longer offer remedial work, I believe (except to keep some of the jocks eligible) (TIC).

The gateway for substandard students should properly be through the two year colleges. Get a two year degree, show you can do it, and then transfer. Certainly not all two year college students are substandard, however! And some two year completers actually see their gpas go up after they move to the 4 year schools. I know the former chancellor, Portch, tried to move remedial out of the four year schools. “Suddenly motivated” students can prove their worth at more supportive institutions.

I believe two year colleges give an entrance test to place students in remedial classes?

Grade inflation is rampant, even at the college level. HOPE encourages this.

IMHO, schools that turn out “honor” grads who place into remedial ed should be penalized financially. No excuse for it. That might help students who are marginal learn before wasting our money that they need to rethink their college destinations.

catlady

May 4th, 2009
8:43 pm

I find Cathy Cox’s pronouncements either grossly ignorant, or out of touch, or insulting. Maybe all three.

Georgia

May 4th, 2009
8:43 pm

Another thing Kathy, I agree with the first blogger – Elementary Schools Fail our Kids. Yes, it is true and I have been crying about this for years. I teach 5th grade and I am just dumbfounded when I receive students every year that has A’s and B’s and can’t read, write a five word sentence or add and subtract. Then, the parents get mad with 5th grade teachers when they tell them that their child can not read or write. Then, the children still can’t read or write and they still get passed on to the middle school without learning how to read and write.

Evil Old English Teacher

May 4th, 2009
8:44 pm

8:44 and my post from 6PM still not here. What a shock…oh well..going back to chalk box from which I came.