Tim Westerberg: Stats prove ‘equal access’ benefits
My perspective on the “equal access” debate currently underway in Summit County is a product of my work as teacher and principal in high-performing high schools for 31 years; what I have learned as a researcher, author, and school improvement coach over the last six years; and my experiences as a parent of five high-performing children and step-children, two of whom graduated from Summit County High School.
Most parents who are “in the know” about how education works in this country push to have their children, even their so-called “average” children, in upper-level courses. Why? Because they know, at least at the intuitive level, what research unequivocally confirms: remedial and general track courses in middle and high school result, at best, in what one study refers to as “a diploma to nowhere.” The most recent ACT results confirm that only one in four test-takers are prepared for success in college in all subject areas tested. Nationwide, one-third of all entering college freshmen are required to take remedial coursework in reading, writing and/or mathematics (the percentages are much higher for community colleges and non-selective four-year schools). Of those who do take remedial coursework in college, only one in four will ever graduate. And here’s the kicker: Many of those who need remedial work in college enter higher education with high school grade point averages of 3.0 and above.
The inconvenient truth (sorry AL) is that in most secondary schools in this country remedial and general track courses are a wasteland; that is, they prepare students neither for success in continuing education or 21st century careers. That is why “parents in the know” don’t want their children in them, and they’re right.
I’m am not in a position to comment on whether or not the Summit County School Board has provided parents and others in the community with adequate communication and a voice in decision making in regard to the equal access initiative. Nor can I comment on whether current implementation is in need of adjustment. What I do know, from the research and from my own experiences as an educator and a parent, is that what the school board is trying to accomplish with the equal access initiative is the right thing to do for kids and for our country, and I applaud them for having the courage to travel down the road toward higher standards for all.
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