Friday, August 19, 2005


The poor b****s cannot even read properly -- and we're not talking about dropouts here. Leftists destroy anything they get control over and American education sure is a prime example of that

Only about half of this year's high school graduates have the reading skills they need to succeed in college, and even fewer are prepared for college-level science and math courses, according to a yearly report from ACT, which produces one of the nation's leading college admissions tests. The report, based on scores of the 2005 high school graduates who took the exam, some 1.2 million students in all, also found that fewer than one in four met the college-readiness benchmarks in all four subjects tested: reading comprehension, English, math and science. "It is very likely that hundreds of thousands of students will have a disconnect between their plans for college and the cold reality of their readiness for college," Richard L. Ferguson, chief executive of ACT, said in an online news conference yesterday.

ACT sets its college-readiness benchmarks - including the reading comprehension benchmark, which is new this year - by correlating earlier students' ACT scores with grades they actually received as college freshmen. Based on that data, the benchmarks indicate the skill level at which a student has a 70 percent likelihood of earning a C or better, and a 50 percent chance of earning a B or better. Among those who took the 2005 test, only 51 percent achieved the benchmark in reading, 26 percent in science, and 41 percent in math; the figure for English was 68 percent. Results from the new optional ACT writing test, which was not widely taken this year, were not included in the report.

About 40 percent of the nation's 2005 high school graduates took the ACT, and the average overall score, 20.9 of a possible 36, was unchanged from the year before. But Dr. Ferguson found it heartening that scores were holding even, given that the pool of test takers had become so much larger and more diverse, in part because both Illinois and Colorado now use the ACT to test all students, even those who do not see themselves as college-bound.

Minority students now make up 27 percent of all ACT test takers, up from 24 percent in the class of 2001. The number of Hispanic test takers has grown 40 percent in that period, and the number of African-American test takers 23 percent. Caucasians taking the test have increased by only 2 percent. "It's wonderful that more and more students who might not have considered college several years ago are now making plans for education beyond high school," Dr. Ferguson said.

But it is a source of concern, he said, that too many students are not taking the kind of rigorous high school courses that will prepare them for college. In fact, only 56 percent of this year's graduates who took the ACT had completed the recommended core curriculum for college-bound students: four years of English and three years each of social studies, science and math at the level of algebra or higher. Those who do complete the core curriculum are far more likely to meet college readiness standards, Dr. Ferguson said, but the percentage who complete that core has been falling. "The message doesn't seem to be getting though," he said.

The ACT report highlighted other worrisome trends as well, including a continuing decline in the percentage of students planning to major in engineering, computer science and education. And at a time when more women than men go to college, Dr. Ferguson said, it is also a matter of concern that 56 percent of this year's graduates who took the ACT were female, and only 44 percent male. As in previous years, men had higher average math and science scores, and women higher averages scores in English and reading.



This story is from Australia but is certainly not unique to Australia

It's the moment all new teachers dread - standing in front of 30 bright-eyed students eager for a maths lesson, knowing they are only just ahead of the youngsters after swotting up on the textbook the night before. Up to 40 per cent of high school maths classes are taught by teachers with no training in the subject and, according to academics, many of them cannot add five one-digit numbers without a calculator.

That is hardly surprising as teachers spend little time at university actually learning maths. Instead, trainee teachers are being instructed - in the words of universities - in how to teach "the social, cultural and political contexts" of mathematics or to think mathematically "from socially inclusive and critical perspectives". This "psychobabble" has been highlighted as a problem for primary school teachers, who need a wide range of skills to cover the extensive curriculum and cater for the range of students' academic ability. The director of the International Centre of Excellence for Education in Mathematics, Garth Gaudry, says the average four-year primary bachelor of education degree devotes just 7 per cent of study time to "anything remotely to do with mathematics".

Only four of 31 Australian universities require trainee teachers to have studied mathematics to year 12 level. More than half do not require any senior school mathematics. "An extremely high proportion of the very small number of courses containing the words 'mathematics' or 'mathematics education' . don't delve into mathematics at all," Gaudry says. "They're about sociological theory, or pop psychology about theories of learning and the child as a learner."

Saddled with teachers with only a minimal grasp of mathematics, students were turning off the subject and often entered high school ill-prepared for secondary studies, he says. "The degree requirements in education faculties in universities are often cast so low . that the poor trainees are going out into primary schools utterly unprepared for the task of teaching mathematics," Gaudry says. His federally funded centre was set up this year to improve mathematics education, from kindergarten to postgraduate students.

The Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers, with 5000 members, said in a recent submission to a Federal Government inquiry that there was "strong anecdotal evidence" that mathematics instruction in teaching degrees "has been curtailed in many institutions". In high schools, the shortage of specialist teachers is being felt. A 2003 survey by the association found that two in five secondary classes were taught by teachers with no training in mathematics, with country schools most affected.

The teaching of maths has been changing. In modern mathematics, students are taught to add, subtract, multiply or estimate using mental computation. In other words, a return to mental arithmetic. The catchcry is "Do it in your head". Students are encouraged to understand concepts before they practise their number sense, perhaps by playing a card game. Then they memorise the basic facts - a variation on their parents' "drill and kill" chanting of times tables.

Ed Lewis, a mathematics education lecturer at the Australian Catholic University, says the emphasis on mental and oral work reflected "the prime mode of calculation used in society". "People do things in their heads; if they can't they will pick up a calculator," he says. "The research tells us that students need to understand the concepts first . Once they have a good handle on the concepts, then they can memorise."

The NSW primary syllabus was modernised in 2002 to reflect these changes, and introduced a new strand called "working mathematically". It underpins what primary school students do in patterns and algebra; data; measurement; space and geometry; and numbers, by stressing the skills of questioning, reasoning, applying strategies, reflecting and communicating. Lewis and colleague Jim Grant were consultants on the mathematics syllabus shake-up, the first since 1989. The syllabus now promotes mental computation, problem-solving, mathematics in a real-life context and more on technology. Grant says the changes were influenced by feedback from teachers that students could cope with more challenging problems. "Children were finding a lot of the syllabus too easy," he says.

There is greater precision in measurement, such as working out a swimming race time down to the parts of a second. Whole numbers, which previously only went up to 1 million, now soar into the trillions. But calculators, which have been available for 35 years and can be used from kindergarten, are still resisted by some teachers due to a fear they will "interfere with learning", Lewis says. "If teachers aren't using calculators they are missing the boat because kids are using them at home anyway."

Like many other subjects, maths is often linked to real-world examples but exactly what grabs students' attention is a $64,000 question. Steve Thornton, a lecturer in mathematics education at Canberra University, says a lesson for senior students on buying a house and getting a mortgage "doesn't interest kids at that age". "As teachers we try to find examples that we think will interest students but quite often what we think will motivate them actually doesn't," he says. Often a "purely mathematical" conundrum was the most exciting way to teach students.

And for the teachers, Lewis says the challenge is for universities to develop "better mathematicians" through teacher education courses. Gaudry believes universities need to set the bar as high for school teachers as it should be for the students they will teach. Standards all round must be improved before too much more damage is done. "Many of the people pressed into teaching [mathematics] in the junior years come from other subject areas and, therefore, have an inadequate training and mastery of mathematics," he says. "This is a very serious problem and it must be addressed. Time is rapidly running out."


Indian socialism at work: "Students of a school in India locked up their teachers for the day as punishment for not turning up egularly. Police officers led by a local magistrate rescued 12 teachers from a classroom at the Jambura high school, near Agartala. Magistrate Basir Ali told The Statesman: 'The students have genuine reasons to be angry, as some teachers invariably come late or never attend classes at all. There were charges of some teachers coming to the school drunk and some of them smoking inside classes.' The school authorities have now been asked to submit a report on the students' allegations."


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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