Explains ways for college students to reduce the amount of stress they feel about school.
By Kenneth Bernstein You are a college professor. I have just retired as a high school teacher. I have some bad news for you.
In case you do not already see what is happening, I want to warn you of what to expect from the students who will be arriving in your classroom, even if you teach in a highly selective institution.
While it is true that the US Department of Education is now issuing waivers on some of the provisions of the law to certain states, those states must agree to other provisions that will have as deleterious an effect on real student learning as did No Child Left Behind—we have already seen that in public schools, most notably in high schools.
Troubling Assessments My primary course as a teacher was government, and for the last seven years that included three or four out of six sections of Advanced Placement AP US Government and Politics. My students, mostly tenth-graders, were quite bright, but already I was seeing the impact of federal education policy on their learning and skills.
With test scores serving as the primary if not the sole measure of student performance and, increasingly, teacher evaluation, anything not being tested was given short shrift. Further, most of the tests being used consist primarily or solely of multiple-choice items, which are cheaper to develop, administer, and score than are tests that include constructed responses such as essays.
Even when a state has tests that include writing, the level of writing required for such tests often does not demand that higher-level thinking be demonstrated, nor does it require proper grammar, usage, syntax, and structure. Thus, students arriving in our high school lacked experience and knowledge about how to do the kinds of writing that are expected at higher levels of education.
Recognizing this, those of us in public schools do what we can to work on those higher-order skills, but we are limited. Remember, high schools also have tests—No Child Left Behind and its progeny such as Race to the Top require testing at least once in high school in reading and math.
High schools are also forced to focus on preparing students for tests, and that leads to a narrowing of what we can accomplish in our classrooms. I mentioned that at least half my students were in AP classes. The explosive growth of these classes, driven in part by high school rankings like the yearly Challenge Index created by Jay Mathews of the Washington Post, is also responsible for some of the problems you will encounter with students entering your institutions.
The College Board did recognize that not everything being labeled as AP met the standards of a college-level course, so it required teachers to submit syllabi for approval to ensure a minimal degree of rigor, at least on paper.
But many of the courses still focus on the AP exam, and that focus can be as detrimental to learning as the kinds of tests imposed under No Child Left Behind.
I served several times as a reader for the examination that follows the course. I saw several problems. If a student hits the points on the rubric, he or she gets the points for that rubric. There is no consideration of grammar or rhetoric, nor is credit given or a score reduced based on the format of the answer.
A student who takes time to construct a clear topic sentence and a proper conclusion gets no credit for those words.Writing a recommendation can be difficult and tedious.
Many a times, the person writing the recommendation may want you to write the first draft and then he or she will edit from there onward. Good essays are made of: an introduction, where you can describe a problem and its effects, an opinion about the topic or your position towards the topic 2/3 paragraphs, where you can present a solution to a problem, some reasons to sustain your opinion, or opposite opinions.
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Finally, every scholarship thank you letter should have a strong closing. You student should again thank the committee, donors, or organization for their assistance, noting that, without them, your child may not be having the amazing college experience they have today.
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