Canyon between high school and college expectations

(Photo by OliBac)

UMSL, Mizzou and the other UM-System campuses require students to have a 24 composite on the ACT or equivalent SAT scores to be accepted as freshmen. (They can be accepted with lower scores with high grades and class rank. See rubric.)

Unfortunately, our high schools are not graduating students at that level. The average ACT composite score in Missouri is 21.6 It's much lower at some of our metro school districts.

Clayton School District provides a good picture since they have all (or almost all at 92.48%) seniors take the ACT. In 2011, they had a composite score of 25.8, well above the state average and above the state university cut-off. However, the UM campus cut-off of 24 is a minimum, not a mean, so even many Clayton students wouldn't test high enough to be accepted.

Ferguson-Florissant had 68.75% of its seniors take the ACT in 2011 with a mean composite score of only 18.4. In order to be accepted to Mizzou or UMSL with that ACT score, a student also has to be in the top 14% of their class and have a 3.5 gpa in their core classes (no padding!).

Riverview Gardens seniors don't have much of a chance. In 2011, 58.74% of seniors took the ACT with a dismal composite score of 16.1. If their ACT score is below a 17, no matter what their class rank or grades in their core classes, they will not be admitted to Mizzou or UMSL. Being accepted to a 4-year state university will be challenging for most students from Riverview Gardens, nevermind the costs. There is a reason this district is currently unaccredited.

Every child should graduate from high school with the option of going to college, whether they choose to or not. The difference in expectations between high school graduation and college entrance is a canyon rather than a ravine for too many of our kids.

Math standards—Lowest Common Denominator?

Photo by ansik

Should Missouri math standards be written as the minimum that students should learn, which would be too low for most students, or should they be written for most students with expectations of extra help for struggling students? Currently, they are written to be the minimum, but a group of math professors believes they should be raised.

Statement in the revised draft as of 18 May 09:

Although the core content, learning goals, and performance indicators specified in this document are intended for ALL students, many Missouri students will be able to move through this content more quickly and will need more mathematics than is outlined here. For that reason, we urge local educational agencies to develop and implement policies and programs serving all students beginning in elementary school, including those who are ready for early advancement and need more mathematics than the material described in this document. As essential support for raising Missouri’s performance in mathematics, specification of core content, learning goals, and performance indicators for fourth-year high school mathematics courses is under development.

math learning goals 051809 - sh - 2

are published, schools will base their curricular decision on these low standards and will already be committed to these curricular decisions." rel="external">Response to Missouri State Board of Education 29 May 09 by Ian Aberbach, professor and director of undergraduate studies, mathematics dept., University of Missouri—Columbia:

If the current standards aimed no higher than to 20th percentile students (ALL) are published, schools will base their curricular decision on these low standards and will already be committed to these curricular decisions.

Yes, the state plans on adding an addendum with supplemental standards for college-bound students, but we should not have a two-tiered approach. All students should graduate from high school prepared for college, whether they choose to continue on or not. The two-tiered approach is not in alignment with Obama’s goals nor is it the best decision to keep Missouri competitive either nationally or internationally.

(Hat tip to Lisa Jones for the links)