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Personalized learning: How kids are getting into college by mastering their skills

The Hechinger Report – Brian Stack

“A student-centered personalized-learning model known as competency education has gained traction over the past five years as states have developed policies to promote its adoption in both elementary and secondary schools. Born from the notion that the old system has significant limitations and flaws in both its structure and its execution in the schools of today, competency education uses a student’s ability to transfer knowledge and apply skills to organize learning. Students refine these skills based on goal-setting, ungraded feedback known as the formative assessment. When they are ready, the students demonstrate their understanding by performing thoughtfully developed tasks that determine how much learning has taken place. This evaluation is called the summative assessment.”(more)

Raising More Than Test Scores

Education Next – Matthew Davis and Blake Heller

“Strict attention to detail, long school days, and a singular focus on college are the hallmarks of “no excuses” charter schools. Families in cities across the United States have flocked to them as academic game changers, and research shows that many of their students beat the odds on standardized tests. But critics allege that such gains are hollow. The “no excuses” approach, they say, amounts to a paternalistic culture of test preparation that detracts from real learning and comes at a steep cost to social and emotional health. Successfully navigating adult life, including the risks and rigors of college, will take much more.”(more)

Borsuk: Too many students unprepared for college

USA Today – Alan J. Borsuk

“About a dozen years ago, Willie Jude, a longtime Milwaukee Public Schools administrator who was principal of Custer High School at the time, told me that many Custer grads who went on to higher education (and there weren’t that many) realized quickly they were way behind many other students when it came to academic preparation. That’s because those other kids were learning the B and C parts of the book when you were learning the A part, Jude said he told them. In other words, a lot of freshmen hit college with a high school diploma that says they are more likely to succeed than students with other diplomas. The difference breaks strongly along lines of income and race.”(more)

Why students who do well in high school bomb in college

The Kansas City Star – Jeff Guo

“The first year of college is a tough transition, and for many students, a disillusioning one. A study conducted last fall at the University of Toronto found that incoming students arrived with unreasonably optimistic expectations. On average, students predicted they would earn grade-point averages of 3.6. Those dreams were swiftly punctured. By the end of the year, the average freshman had only a 2.3. What separated the high-achievers from the low-achievers? As any college admissions counselor will tell you, high school grades have always been the single best predictor of college success. But that does not mean that high school grades are good predictors. Research shows that differences in students’ high school GPAs explain only about 20 percent of the differences between students’ college GPAs.”(more)

California students scored better on this year’s state tests — but fewer than half met college readiness goals

The Los Angeles Times – Sonali Kohli, Joy Resmovits and Sandra Poindexter

“If the state’s revamped standardized tests are accurately measuring what they set out to measure, one thing is clear: California has miles to go before all of its students are on an equal footing to face an economy that increasingly demands a college degree and stronger workplace skills. The good news, if there is good news, is there’s improvement over last year. This is the second year the test results have been released to the public, and the first allowing for year-to-year comparison. Across the state, 48% of students met English language arts standards and 37% met math standards, according to the test results released Wednesday morning. That compares with 44% in English and 34% in math last year. That means that more than half of the test-takers in each subject still fell short.”(more)

A solution as obvious as it is rare: Making high school graduates ready for college

The Hechinger Report – Matthew Randazzo

“Stephanie Lewis and one of her students both cried when he graduated in the spring from South Pittsburg High School in Tennessee, where she teaches English. He’d done something she admits she wasn’t sure he could: finish high school fully prepared to go right to college. That’s a feat a surprising number of high school graduates fail to accomplish. Half a million, or about one in four, show up on campuses each fall not ready to take college courses in math or English, according to the advocacy organization Education Reform Now. In Tennessee, only 17 percent of public high school students score at college-ready levels in English, math, reading, and science on standardized tests. It’s a little-noticed problem that forces these students to relearn material they should have already known, discouraging huge numbers of them from ultimately getting their degrees and costing the nation, by various estimates, between $1.5 billion and $7 billion a year.”(more)