Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Liberal University Admissions Policies Cheat Students

In recent months, there have been a growing number of reports of cheating on standardized tests. Last fall, 20 people were arrested in connection with an SAT cheating scandal at a Long Island high school, leading the local prosecutor to bring charges against the students. Just last month, an official with Claremont McKenna College in California resigned after admitting to inflating the SAT scores of incoming freshmen to boost the college's standing in the US News and World Report rankings.

We teach our children that cheating is never acceptable, but the sad reality, and the dirty little secret, is that some colleges and universities have been essentially cheating on test scores by manipulating their admission policies.

Whether it involves top athletes or wealthy international applicants, it happens more than we want to admit. The Claremont McKenna scandal also raises concerns about the influence and validity of college rankings, issues that present problems for US News and World Report and other college ranking publications like Princeton Review and Kiplinger.

The most disturbing form of legitimized cheating on college rankings is known as a test optional admissions policy. An increasing number of colleges give applicants the option of submitting or withholding their SAT scores as a part of their admissions package. Unfortunately, this practice leads to inflated average SAT scores among incoming freshmen because only the highest scorers are likely to submit their rest results, and higher SAT scores mean a higher ranking for the school.

Some experts argue that this trend ultimately harms students. In 2008, Jonathan Epstein, a researcher with the education consultancy Maguire Associates, studied the impact of test-optional policies in college admissions. Epstein discovered that test-optional policies at colleges and universities lead to artificially inflated average SAT scores. He also found that the policies further confused prospective students and families and was "not in the best interest of any institution or higher education in general."

Standardized tests have been used since the 1920's to measure the educational development of our children and to predict post secondary performance.

Colleges and universities have continued to rely on standardized tests to make admission decisions as they attempt to differentiate among students who will likely succeed and those who will be at risk or under perform.

Opponents of the SAT exam have long argued argue that the test determines who gets into college and who does not, and should be abolished in favor of “test optional policies.” These arguments are largely promoted by left wing academics and liberal activist groups who wish to further the manipulation of higher education through an equality of outcome in higher education rather than the traditional merit-based college application process.

They also use this reasoning as a tool to subvert laws preventing affirmative action and other forms of discrimination in college admissions.

So in an attempt to be the best, colleges are taking shortcuts with test optional admission policies and gaming the system in an effort to increase their rankings, get the best athletes and athletic facilities, raise more money from alumni and donors, and otherwise enjoy the accolades that come with the prestige of a higher ranking. But the ones who suffer are our children, who will not get an accurate assessment of whether a particular school is the best fit for them, especially among colleges with test optional policies that artificially inflate the school's average SAT scores.

Cheating is always wrong. It is wrong when students cheat on SAT exams in order to increase their chance of getting into a good college and it is equally wrong for colleges to cheat in order increase their rankings and stature.

As a mother of two young children, I encourage and expect my children to maintain integrity and honesty, and hopefully, become productive members of society. If colleges and universities expect to be the training ground for our children and future leaders, they also need to adhere to the highest standards of integrity and honesty. Eliminating test optional policies and replacing them with an honest and proven admissions standard would be a good place to start.


British school bans slang! Pupils ordered to use the Queen's English in the classroom 'to help children get jobs'

Parents may breathe a sigh of relief - but the local MP hasn't. A teaching academy has ordered youngsters to leave slang at the school gates and learn to speak the Queen's English.

Sheffield's Springs Academy hopes to give them a better chance of getting a job, so slang or ‘text talk' have been banned while they are in the buildings.

The United Learning Trust which runs the school, which has 1,100 students aged for 11 to 18 and is an working class area of the city, believes slang creates a wrong impression to employers at interviews.

Kathy August, deputy chief executive of the Trust, said: 'We want to make sure that our youngsters are not just leaving school with the necessary A to Cs in GCSEs but that they also have a whole range of employability skills.

'We know through the close relationships we have with business partners and commercial partners that when they are doing interviews with youngsters, not only are they looking at the qualifications, they are also looking at how they conduct themselves.

'What we want to make sure of is that they are confident in using standard English. Slang doesn't really give the right impression of the person. 'Youngsters going to interviews for their first job need to make a good impression so that employers have confidence in them. 'It's not difficult to get youngster out of the habit of using slang.

'When youngsters are talking together they use text speak and that's absolutely fine, that's what you do in a social context, but when you are getting prepared for life and going for interviews you need to be confident in using standard English.

Penistone & Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith has said the school was wrong to ban slang. 'I'm a parent and when youngsters are at home we all have to make sure that we are all working together because this is for the benefit of those young people and their future.

'Using slang is a habit but youngsters are very adaptable and once they know that is what is expected and they know the reason is to help their employability skills they will pick it up very quickly. It is not a big problem at all. 'It's something new and people are saying why are we doing it but once we have exclaimed it hasn't been a problem.'

Penistone & Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith has said the school was wrong to ban slang MP Angela Smith, a former GCSE English teacher at a South Yorkshire secondary, slammed the ruling: 'The school, is wrong to ban slang. How will the school police this? 'Who will say what the difference is between slang and dialect? It could completely undermine the confidence of the children at the school.

'If someone tells them how to speak they could dig in her heels and do it all the more. I really think they have set themselves a task that is impossible to achieve. 'Who is going to adjudicate? Who is going to say slang, dialect or accent? And which one is right and which one is wrong?

'Most people know when to put on their telephone voice because that is what we are talking about. When people go on the phone or talk to anyone in authority they put on a different voice.'

Mrs August responded: 'We are not trying to stamp out dialect or accents, it is simply the use of slang words. 'For example if someone goes for an interview it is more preferable to say "Good morning" rather than "Hiya" and when the person leaves an employer would much rather here the words "Goodbye" rather than "Cheers" or "Seeya". '"Thank you" is a better word to use than "Ta". And it's not a case of policing or enforcing this policy at Springs Academy, we are simply encouraging it among the students.'


Australia: Chaos in Qld. schools, warn teachers as uniform but unrealistic national curriculum is rolled out

CHILDREN and teachers are stressed, a statewide computer system keeps crashing and "total confusion" reigns over what has to be taught in state schools under the rollout of the Australian curriculum, teachers warn.

Early Childhood Teachers' Association president Kim Walters said some of the new curriculum content was too hard for the state's youngest children and teachers couldn't download required resources because the network kept crashing or there were access and speed problems.

Queensland Teachers' Union president Kevin Bates agreed there were problems with the network, saying Education Queensland did not have "sufficient bandwidth" to handle the number of users for its online Curriculum into the Classroom (C2C) package.

LNP education spokesman Bruce Flegg said the State Government had failed students by "rushing in the curriculum" before New South Wales and Victoria.

Curriculum concerns at new three Rs

Queensland students this year are among the first in the country to take on the Australian curriculum in all Prep to Year 10 classes in English, mathematics and science.

Ms Walters said curriculum content was another problem, with Preps in particular not ready for some of it. "One of our lessons in the first week ... was recognising the number name F-O-U-R, for four. Some of them can't even recognise their name," she said.

"Just having your 26 children sitting on a mat all doing the same thing at once ... is physically impossible in the first week of school with children who aren't ready to do school yet. I think some of the children are very stressed. "Definitely there are a lot of stressed teachers as they try to do their very best."

She also said teachers were being sent mixed messages about whether they had to teach C2C lesson plans, but EQ had moved to fix this.

Mr Bates said there were "some very stressed teachers" who were trying to do their best with the new curriculum, but there was always going to be teething issues in this "transition year". "Is it too hard? In some cases it might be more than we previously expected, but that is certainly one of the challenges I think teachers are up to," he said.

Mr Bates said there were clear messages about what was expected of teachers in the classroom, but because teachers were so busy with the curriculum the message wasn't always getting through.

EQ had told the Courier-Mail in the past C2C is not mandatory, but teachers continue to report receiving mixed messages about the status of C2C on the ground."

EQ director-general Julie Grantham said the implementation of the national curriculum was challenging and rewarding with the department valuing teacher feedback, "especially around C2C".

Assistant director-general of Information and Technologies Dave O'Hagan said the department was monitoring the computer systems and had upgraded the bandwidth, but there were still challenges in regional areas because of limited broadband availability. He said there were also "some stability issues" which caused the network to crash last week.


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