Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Most Teens Will Not Graduate College-Ready

Most teens are doomed to have to take some sort of summer preparation class as a condition of their full acceptance to a university.  When I say, "some sort," I'm really talking about two main subjects universities assess as part of their placement process: math and English.  Being able to start freshman year of college in English 101 as well as Math 101, meaning Calculus A, is a big deal.  It means not having to take extra pre-requisites and pay more money for an already costly college education.

Every parent reading needs to understand this: High schools are not college readiness factories.  They are college acceptance factories.  Yes, there is a difference.  You are being sold by every high school Principal a product that does less than 50% of what it claims to do.  Go to a meeting at your kid's future high school and count the number of times you hear the words, "college-prep," linked together.  How could courses be college prep, yet according to the latest Nation's Report Card, only about a third of all high school graduates score at or above Proficient on college readiness examinations in English and Math.  These may even include kids with outstanding grades!

In California, almost all high school juniors take the Smarter Balanced Assessment (formerly EAP) to have their English Language Arts (ELA) and Math skills gauged by the Cal State University system, and now as many as 80 community colleges.  In 2015, only 56% of juniors tested "met or exceeded" the standard in ELA.  Only 29% "met or exceeded" the standard in Math.  That means a ton of kids will have to take remedial courses next summer, especially if they didn't address their deficiencies as seniors this year.

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Who Doesn't Have To Take These College Readiness/Placement Assessments?

Students who kick butt on the Scholastic Aptitude Test are automatically deemed ready for college.  You can see the required SAT scores here (for Cal State enrollment--they may be different in other states): Cal State exemptions.  If students take Advanced Placement classes in English and Math, they too are exempt from taking the college readiness exams.

Why aren't students graduating high school college ready even when they take tough classes and do well?

Well, this may sound offensive but...teens these days are illiterate.  And I don't mean they don't know how to read.  I mean they don't read enough.  And what they read is usually something they are being forced to read by their teachers at school.  Yet, even though some teens read for pleasure, they are still not reading what they need to read.  They're reading useless fiction.

What good can come of your teenager reading tales about talking animals, wizards, vampires fighting werewolves, fantasy worlds, and so on?  Do they plan on writing genre fiction books for a living?  If not, then they're wasting their time.

Teens need to be reading a lot more.  I've worked in schools long enough to see how behind they are in their reading.  But not just any type of reading.  They don't read enough non-fiction!  People, we are living in the Information/Knowledge Worker era, and your teen is reading what?--Chronicles of this or that, love novels, and wizardry school adventures.  Really?  No wonder high school graduates aren't college-ready.  Teens are getting blown out of the water by these assessments that have them analyze expository, mostly non-fiction text.  Get your teen reading non-fiction like yesterday.

Here is a list of some non-fiction texts your teens can read:

1.  Wisdom from Rich Dad, Poor Dad for Teens: The secret about money that you don't learn in school! by Robert Kiyosaki

2.  Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris.
3.  The Teen Girl's Survival Guide: Ten Tips for Making Friends, Avoiding Drama, and Coping with Social Stress by Lucie Hemmen, PhD.

4.  Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky.

5.  For Boys Only: The Biggest, Baddest Book Ever by Marc Aronson.

6.  What Do You Stand For? For Teens: A Guide to Building Character by Barbara A. Lewis.

7.  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.

8.  The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make: A Guide for Teens by Sean Covey.

9.  The Success Principles for Teens: How to get from where you are to where you want to be by Jack Canfield.

10.  Go Teen Writers: How To Turn Your First Draft Into a Published book by Stephanie Morril and Jill Williamson.

Alright, there are ten great teen non-fiction books to begin with.  But there are so many more and in case these don't interest your teen, then have them pick a non-fiction book related to a hobby they're into right now.  

Main Points of this Post:

1) Your kids aren't reading enough.
2) If your kids are reading, they're mostly reading fiction.
3) Kids will need to be able to analyze non-fiction in college a whole lot more than fiction.
4) The real world in the 21st century demands that people read non-fiction quickly and vastly.  Unless of course you want to be replaced at your job by a robot.

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