Just two days after the New York Times published an article about teenagers sending tens of thousands of text messages a month, it reports on remedial college courses. It’s interesting that a lack of communication is cited as a cause of the problem:
More than a million college freshmen across the nation must take remedial courses each year, and many drop out before getting a degree. Poorly run public schools are a part of the problem, but so is a disconnect between high schools and colleges.
The experts quoted echo this sentiment, complaining that high schools and colleges don’t talk to each other and that they should adjust expectations so that fewer students need remedial help.
Given that teens are able to maintain constant contact with their peers using cell phones, it doesn’t make sense to say that adults in the education industry just can’t share enough information with each other. Communication tools are ubiquitous. The information is available. High schools and colleges have the information they need about student achievement and course expectations; the gap exists because high schools don’t act on that knowledge.
The goal of education is learning. Avoiding remedial work is not a goal in and of itself. So, colleges shouldn’t have to cut out the remedial courses or dumb down their general course offerings to “align” themselves with poorly performing high schools.
High schools should improve. But high schools are held to arbitrary, low state standards — when they’re held to any standard, that is (it takes years to strip a district of accreditation). Parents and students can’t hold them accountable, and they don’t suffer consequences when they fall short. It’s not surprising that there’s a gap between monopolistic high schools and competitive colleges.