kitchen table math, the sequel: College Readiness

Friday, February 8, 2013

College Readiness

The problem with CCSS is that it was based on a "workplace analysis" that defined a one-size-fits-all pseudo-algebra II target in math. It's driven by the K-12 world that went out of its way to ignore college readiness tools currently used by colleges. PARCC is defining its own PLDs and cutoffs and only vaguely worries about correlating their data with existing tests. Also, the levels do NOT address the K-12 academic needs of those interested in STEM careers. PARCC is ignoring the ACT, SAT (I and II), AP tests, and they even ignore common remedial tests like ACCUPLACER and COMPASS.

What does it mean that ACT decided to split from PARCC to develop its own products? Specifically, they now have ACT-Explore for 8th and 9th grades, ACT-PLAN for 10th grade, and the ACT for 11th or 12th grades. These are tied into ACT-Aspire, a system that will cover K-12 development and testing.

What does it mean that the College Board is developing their own products? They have ReadiStep for middle school, the PSAT/NMSQT for 10th/11th grades, and the SAT. They have the SAT II and the AP classes and tests, soon to be supported by "SpringBoard", their grade 6-12 "Pre-AP" program.

And what about ACCUPLACER and COMPASS? Will colleges dump them and buy into an unknown and uncalibrated PARCC product that might have trouble calibrating its no-fluency-necesssary idea of education with the needs of colleges?

Who will drive this process, K-12 educators or colleges? This is a philosophical control issue.

Both the AP sequencene the College Board sequence build upon known quantities that are currently used by almost all colleges. They are fitting CCSS to their higher standards, not defining a curriculum that maxes out on barely college ready. I would give the College Board the edge because of their high-end AP and SAT II products, but I would give the edge to the ACT over the SAT. I think that Coleman at the College Board wants to adddress that "aptitude" issue.

So, what does CCSS/PARCC offer AT MOST?

Level 5 - "Students performing at this level demonstrate a distinguished command of the knowledge, skills, and practices embodied by the Common Core State Standards assessed at their grade level. ... They are academically well prepared to engage successfully in entry-level, credit-bearing courses in College Algebra, Introductory College Statistics, and technical courses requiring an equivalent level of mathematics."

One can hope that real college expectations and curricula will eventually be driven back to the lower grades. But how long (if ever) will it take our PARCC state to come to grips with the idea that they have to define a path to the top end for all students; not just be happy if little urban Johnnie or Suzie makes it to the community college level; not just fool themselves with terms like "college ready" and "distinguished". With a choice of standards products I'm hopeful, but only over the long term.


SteveH said...

From EdWeek, Feb. 1st.

"In an email to EdWeek, the state's assessment director, Gloria Turner, confirmed that Alabama has bowed out of both the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. She said the department of education "has decided to go in another direction," but didn't offer any more detail."

They have chosen ACT's EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT products.

What do parents want? Do they want clear feedback on how their kids are progressing (linearly, I hope) towards success on the ACT, or feedback that tells them that their kids are “distinguished”, but end up getting a 17 on the ACT.

momof4 said...

In a recent online discussion of state testing, I mentioned that my kids had taken the MD state testing as 7th-graders, when it was first offered, (essentially no prep) and that everyone in their honors classes had had high scores across the board. Another commenter, who had taken those tests herself as a MoCo student, put it rather well, I thought: only those kids who can get high scores on the (HS grad) testing as 7th-graders are really going to be ready for REAL college-level work (words to that effect). In other words, those kids who score at least 4s on calc BC, calc-based AP physics, chem, foreign language, history, English etc. Sad, but probably on the money. I think she was the one who took and passed the Praxis exam that her current 5th-grade teacher had failed 4 times.

momof4 said...

Thanks for the info, Steve - I hadn't heard of ACT's EXPLORE and PLAN. I seem to remember hearing that the ACT was/is aligned with the ITBS; is that accurate? If so, it would seem to be a good idea for the ITBS to be used in ES-MS, instead of current state testing.