Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Friday, March 25, 2016

Value of High School Diploma Drops

The slogan “college and career ready” is often used as the measure of what a high-school diploma is supposed to represent. Let’s take math, and especially algebra. Students must be accomplished in math for any kind of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) career.

New York State uses the statewide Regents exam for high-school algebra in which a raw score of 30 out of 86 is supposedly “scaled” to a passing score of 65. If you do the math, 30 divided by 86 means that only 35 percent of the questions are answered correctly, not 65 percent. But only 63 percent of high-school seniors managed to achieve that so-called passing score. Even after several tries, less than 25% of the students attained a “college ready” score.

Even the term “college ready” is misleading, because it only means ready for a two-year community college with open admissions, not a competitive four-year college. At most community colleges, half the students must take “remediation” courses before they can even begin to do college-level work, and most students who enter remediation never earn a college degree.

The decline of public education explains the rebellion against Common Core, which was foisted on the nation without public approval. It explains why in the Republican presidential contest, the leading candidates say that Common Core is a disaster and pledge to do away with it, and the governors who endorsed Common Core (Bush, Kasich, Christie, and Huckabee) did not become major presidential contendors.

Common Core produced voluminous standards for reading and math, replaced real literature with boring instructional texts, and replaced computational math with useless busy-work. Its minimum standards were set low enough for nearly every student to pass, so we can pretend we’re in Lake Wobegon, where “all children are above average.”

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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