kitchen table math, the sequel: Robert Pondiscio on college readiness

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Robert Pondiscio on college readiness

at the Irvington Parents Forum:
It seems to me that there is an obvious and probably unresolvable tension at work here.  Tie a high school diploma to a high and meaningful standard and you will have boxcar numbers of children who will not measure up now or in the foreseeable future.  Keep it low and you're essentially misleading a similar number to believe they have achieved a level of preparedness they have not.  Advocate for a two-tier system, and you risk (as others have noted) a return to the bad old days.

At present, "college ready" is little more than a bumper sticker.  The fact that only one in four kids (as based on the most recent ACT results) are prepared to do c-level college work in all tested subjects is ample proof that it's not an operative goal for high schools anywhere.  Given the range of colleges, it's a slippery concept.  Harvard ready is not the same as Hostos ready.  The only possible solution of which I can conceive is for state assessments to give families meaningful feedback not on the equally ephemeral concept of "on grade level" but whether or not a child is on track for acceptance within that state's university system--and guarantee a seat if so.  New York can't say I'm Harvard material.  But they certainly should be able to say if I'm SUNY material.


Bostonian said...

"College readiness" is not a binary but a continuous measure, as Pondiscio says. Why doesn't New York state have all high school students take the SAT I (reasoning) and three SAT II (subject) tests, report the results on transcripts (including percentile equivalents), and let students, parents, employers, and colleges use the results as they see fit?

State universities should create online calculators predicting a student's chance of graduating based on his SAT scores and high school grades, based on their experience with past students, so that potential students can make informed decisions before enrolling in college.

Catherine Johnson said...

I like that idea tremendously.

For years, I've wanted government to make scores, etc. transparent TO PARENTS. I'm even in favor of setting things up so that parents can elect to give their kids standardized tests on their own.

As long as testing is linked directly to a public school, there will be huge political pressure to inflate scores.

Of course, that may be the case with parents administering tests, too...but I can at least imagine a 'market' or 'choice' system allowing parents to pick which tests they want to give and when that would be harder for states to game.

I don't believe there's been egregious score inflation with SAT, ACT, or AP - right?

Laura said...

I'm a homeschooler and I give my DD annual Iowa tests. (There are other good standardized tests too - I use Iowa's because that is what our old private school used, and I wanted to compare "apples" to "apples"). I've watched those scores go up the longer we've homeschooled. It isn't required here for homeschoolers.

Public school students here take the AIMS Test (Arizona state standardized test) and despite the fact we rate 41st to 48th in reading (8th/4th grades respectively on NAEP) - our kids are whizzing through the AIMS reading test... meeting or exceeding proficiency! Amazing!!

Bostonian said...

The College Board, which administers the SAT, has created College Board Standards for College Success that show in detail what should be studied in science, English, and math.

"The standards advisory committees relied on college-readiness evidence gathered from a wide array of sources to design and develop the CBSCS. These sources include national and international frameworks such as National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS); results of surveys and course content analyses from college faculty regarding what is most important for college readiness; assessment frameworks from relevant AP exams, the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT®, and College Level Examination Program® (CLEP®) exams, and selected university placement programs.

Beginning with the end goal in mind, the committees first defined the academic demands students will face in AP or first-year college courses in English, mathematics and statistics, and science. After identifying these demands, the committees then backmapped to the start of middle school to outline a vertical progression, or road map, of critical thinking skills and knowledge students need to be prepared for college-level work."

Regarding the question on score inflation, historical SAT math and verbal scores since 1972 are the Wikipedia SAT entry. They show a fall and then stagnation in verbal scores, a fall and then a rise in math scores. The SAT scale was recentered in 1995, but it was done publicly, not surreptitiously.