The following report in today's Denver Post is yet another example of how the 'accountability' movement, high stakes testing, and No Child Left Behind are failures.
After ten years of Romer-Owens-Ritter CSAP testing and teaching to the test -- this is what we've got: nothing to show for the millions and millions of dollars spent and the months and months of testing instead of teaching.
Yet, as reading the article demonstrates, this rather obvious truth is completely beyond the comprehension of the bureaucratic educrats who pretend to 'know' what is best for your local school.
It is way past time to end CSAP, end No Child Left Behind, end the notion that more money is the only way to improve education, and end the tenure of administrators, union insiders, and politicians who stand in the way of real educational reform in Colorado and the nation.
One-third of Colorado high school graduates need remedial classes when they start college every year, and everyone from principals to state bureaucrats is pressing to get higher education and school districts to work together to move kids toward degrees faster.
In Aurora, school-district leaders are considering creating a new school for dropouts that compresses remediation classes into a high school diploma, so kids can go straight to a four-year college.
Nancy McCallin, president of the Colorado Community College System, is working to cut the time it takes for remediation so educators don't lose uninspired kids.
And at the state level, education officials are working to bridge the chasm between college and high school, bringing teachers and professors together so everyone knows what kids are expected to know when they get to a college lecture hall.
This year, about 30 percent of the state's high school graduates who attended college had to take at least one remedial class in reading, writing or math. Among first-time students at community colleges, that number is almost 60 percent.
Students say the classes are onerous. They're not particularly interesting, they don't count toward a degree and they cost roughly $250 per class.
"Taking six hours a week to go to a math class that isn't getting graded is ridiculous," said Allyssa Romo, a 21-year-old single mom pushing herself through Metropolitan State College of Denver. "It was a waste of my time."
Romo has a GED and didn't pass a math assessment test. She's going to review the book herself and take the test again.
In some high schools, particularly in Denver and Aurora, the number of students needing remediation is on the rise.
At Denver's Abraham Lincoln High School, 43 percent of graduates needed at least one remedial math or reading class in 2006. This year, that number jumped to 78 percent. At Aurora Central High School, 57 percent of graduates needed remediation in 2006. That number increased to 71 percent in 2008.
The state Department of Higher Education is having conversations across the state to define what it means to be ready for college. There is a chronic disconnect of expectations on two fronts: School districts think that a diploma should mean students can pass entry-level math and reading in college. Colleges think middle and high school teachers should know how to prepare students for tougher course work.
"We know we are not doing well enough," said David Skaggs, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education. "It is a reality check . . . in how school districts are doing to prepare their graduates to go to college."
As a taxpayer and high school principal, Bill Kurtz thinks remediation seems maddeningly inefficient. He runs the Denver School for Science and Technology, a charter high school that sent all of its graduates last spring to college.
"The only way you're going to move this is if you set a goal of sending all kids to a four- year college," Kurtz said. "The only way we're going to get that rigor in high school is to set the bar that high."
McCallin said she doesn't like blaming high schools for unprepared students. She's worked on making remediation classes more intense and shorter so students don't get bored with college before it even starts.
"We've got this issue; now how do we fix it?" she said.