Awareness Grows that High Stakes Tests Are Failing to Prepare Students for College

From reporter Chris Umpierre in the Fort Myers News-Press:

For many Southwest Florida students, receiving a high school diploma isn’t the end of their high school education.

About 70 percent of Edison State College’s incoming freshmen have to take at least one remedial course to learn the skills they should have learned in high school. About 50 percent of Hodges University’s incoming freshmen take remedial courses.

“Their writing scores are always an issue,” said Rita Lampus, Hodges’ vice president for student enrollment management. “We have two levels of English remedial courses and one level of math to get them up to speed.”

Nationally, 43 percent of students at two-year public intuitions and 29 percent at four-year public colleges take remedial courses, according to a study by advocacy group Strong American Schools. Not only does remediation make students more likely to drop out of college, it creates an economic burden on taxpayers, said Bob Wise, former West Virginia governor and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based advocacy group.

The national cost of remediation in the 2007–08 school year was $3.6 billion, according to a study by the alliance. Florida paid $123 million — the fifth highest in the U.S. — for students to learn the same material in high school and college.

The much ballyhooed high school end-or-course exams won’t do any better as they, too, are multiple choice tests which do not address the remediation realities. This morning’s Tampa Bay Times story aptly describes FCAT as the “be-all and end-all” and voters will make the association between the  $123 million dollar remediation costs and  FCAT’s domination.

While Governor Wise is at least recognizing the remediation problem – and  he’s closely allied with Jeb Bush on education policy – he is a Common Core Standrads (CCS) devotee and feels their adoption will solve everything. Both Wise and Bush still need see high stakes tests as the “be-all and end-all” in their visions. They say CCS can be effectively measured through hyper-standardized national tests and serve as a “be-all, end-all” system of “accountability.”

Florida has  already been operating under common standards. And even powerful figures like these two charismatic former governors cannot overcome stark examples of their formula failing spectacularly in Florida which also includes a tragic number of kids who aren’t ready for college when they get there.


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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