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MIT is going back to requiring scores for 2022-23


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15 hours ago, daijobu said:

This may be related to the fact that MIT does not favor legacy applicants, unlike the other Ivy+'s.  I've wondered if this is the reason MIT's campus looks fairly crappy.  

For whatever reason, my dd loved MIT’s campus much more than Harvard next door and didn’t consider it crappy.  

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1 minute ago, Lilaclady said:

For whatever reason, my dd loved MIT’s campus much more than Harvard next door and didn’t consider it crappy.  

I loved MIT's campus and considered it crappy. For me, that was part of its appeal. It didn't feel fake or pretentious or like a staged house that was just meant to look good rather than actually be lived in. MIT always felt like an imperfect, rough-around-the-edges, lived-in place full of real people doing real things. Learning and growing and innovating are not neat, tidy activities, so I am suspicious of places devoted to those goals that don't show plenty of wear and tear.

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3 hours ago, Sneezyone said:

If you read the article, that’s not, in fact, what happened. The students received support services and met expectations. No one was harmed by their presence. The next cancer cure-r might even be among them.

That is not exactly what the article said.

The school was flush with money intended to be used to support AP teacher planning time and consequently strengthen AP courses. (Now, whether that funding is justified is another question, but that is what it was given for.) A chunk of that funding was instead used to support students who needed remediation.

So, on one hand, yes, with lots of funding, some remediation clearly was possible. As the one teacher noted, she brought some of her F students up to B students. OTOH, she described Lowell in the past as a place where "students entered in the ninety-seventh percentile and left in the ninety-seventh percentile." And why shouldn't that type of place exist? 

Because I'm not convinced that "No one was harmed by their presence." As the one teacher said, "...to me, that says that anybody can be a Lowell student. It just required good support and attentive work from clever teachers. And time." So, again, at a school that used to devote its resources to the highest achievers, now a lot had to be used for remediation.

Also, clearly some of those 97th% students who no longer get into Lowell because of the lottery, such as the middle school valedictorian mentioned the in the article, are harmed by not getting into a school that was specifically designed to meet their needs.

And finally, I'm not convinced that being "joined by a rope" to a struggling student who doesn't do his work is harmless to the higher achieving students. The article paints a picture of a symbiotic relationship between Arin and Brandon, but Lowell had a 99% graduation rate, so clearly the Arin's of the school had always managed without also pulling along a struggling student. I was that Arin for my entire school career, and I can promise you that no matter how you spin it, being assigned to help my first grade peers with their work, when in my free time I was teaching myself long division and negative numbers, was not educationally beneficial to me at all.

Me helping my classmates was not meant to teach me anything, it was meant to take some of the load off of my teachers because they were faced with students who needed extensive differentiation and remediation and they did not have time to meet everyone's needs. So they put most of their time toward "the middle", whatever time they could scrape together toward those who needed remediation, and they ignored me entirely except to have me also help with the remediation effort. As a student in the class I deserved about 1/30 of the teacher's time, but instead I was receiving more or less none of it and was instead being called into service to act as a teaching aid.

My school district certainly did not offer a Lowell-like school, and private school was unimaginably expensive for us. So I could only dream of going to a school where teachers would actually teach me challenging things. And to hear that such a school does exist, and that they are moving to model where teacher will once again have to spend a chunk of their time remediating the F students instead of challenging the A students, makes me shake my head.

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1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:

Caltech is test blind. Sure. I bet most kids they admit have qualified for AIME and wrapped up calculus in middle school. Of course SAT is irrelevant.

Interesting.  I didn't realize they had done this.  I agree that the SAT has less value for a school like this because the ceiling is so low.  Once you get into 1500s territory, what you're really measuring is how well the student was able to avoid making silly mistakes.

Edited by EKS
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This was published before the pandemic.  I've included some interesting excerpts below.  

https://stanforddaily.com/2019/02/21/students-educators-discuss-challenges-in-transitioning-to-stanford-from-under-resourced-schools/

“I’ve been told, ‘You just need to accept the fact that you’re not an engineer,’” she said. “And I did switch my major. It’s a harsh reality on this campus that many students are facing.”

"Despite this support, some students said they also felt unprepared for the rigor of Stanford classes, compared to students who had experience in college-level subjects during high school. Students specifically criticized courses such as the introductory chemistry series."

“It just seemed like everyone else around me but me had some kind of rigorous curriculum that helped them, that gave them an advantage when taking the class,” Adebagbo said.

“I felt like my professors automatically assumed that their students had a sufficient background to at least understand the concepts that they were presenting in the class,” Cusic said.

"Adebagbo grew up in Boston, and went to a school where only 26 students were part of her graduating class. She does not put her high school at fault for her difficult transition at Stanford."

“There’s only so much you can expect from a fairly new school,” she said. “So I think a lot of my anger [is] toward Stanford — you knew who I was when you accepted me. You knew the kind of high school I went to. You knew the environment I was coming from.”

“You accept a student like me into Stanford and you expect magically that I’ll figure myself out,” she said.

“I’ve been in situations where [professors] are teaching students like me, when I’m asking questions, and I can see the frustration on their faces, because I’m the one asking the questions that caused them to explain things from a basic level,” she said.

“I wouldn’t just say that having these resources on campus isn’t going to substitute or compensate for all those years of education that you didn’t have, or that access that you didn’t have before,” he said. “You can’t teach me something in 10 weeks that I didn’t learn for years.”

“I want to make sure that when [professors] are actually talking to you, they’re taking time to break down the concepts, and speaking to someone as if they’ve never been exposed to the material before,” Cusic said. “Not in a demeaning or degrading way, but approaching the material as if we’re starting from a very very new foundation.”

The Diversity and Access Office has worked with faculty through workshops centered on cultural humility, particularly with regard to professors’ attitudes toward students, Vasquez said.

“It’s not like after one workshop someone has eliminated their biases,” he said. “I also think that it’s not just individuals but it’s also systemic. It’s the way that certain academic policies are made, the way that certain courses are sequenced or the ways that majors are designed.”

Marcone, on the other hand, found chemistry professors very clear and helpful.  “Chem classes have been some of my favorite, and honestly the teachers have consistently surprised me by how good they are at explaining the concepts,” she said.

 “When you go to a school where everyone is on free or reduced lunch, or some kids come to school solely for the purpose of eating lunch because they don’t have food at home, that is a whole different environment.”

Cusic was also met with judgement from other students in the classroom when she asked simple questions, she said. She sees Stanford’s culture as skewed toward students who already know topics well when entering the classroom.  

“It’s not okay not to know right now at Stanford,” she said. “You have to know everything, or else you’ll look like a fool. I hate that.”

Bah hopes Stanford will make changes to its culture and be more open to accepting students from under-resourced schools.

Edited by daijobu
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1 hour ago, Roadrunner said:

@wendyroo Being academically smart (gifted, or whatever word one prefers) is a privilege. Privilege is bad. Therefore those kids need to just say thanks they are smart and shut up. That’s the prevailing attitude here. 
 

It is so bizarre.

My kids have all gone though a local swim school that moves kids through incremental levels, only promoting when they have demonstrated the requisite skills. And parents have a conniption when they feel one of their child's classmates is misplaced - "You are supposed to be teaching my child to do flip turns, but instead you are focused on teaching that little boy side breaths which he should already know at this level!"

And I feel the same way. Lessons are only 30 minutes, there is only so much swim time and teacher attention to go around, and I'm paying big bucks for my child to get their fair share of time learning the skill that this particular level is supposed to be teaching.

Yet tell some parents that advanced and AP classes are going to accommodate and remediate struggling learners, but that it certainly won't slow down or impact the advanced students...and they accept it as gospel?

I can tell you for a fact that in my high school it was readily apparent which students were barely skating through skill subjects with a C or D and then moving on to the next level. Taking Pre-Calc or Spanish 4 after getting near failing grades in all the prior levels certainly did not do those students any favors, and just their presence in our classes also severely impacted the rest of us...and not in good, beneficial, symbiotic ways.

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22 hours ago, Sneezyone said:

The fact that a college will admit any student who meets a score threshold doesn't require them to turn down students who might be below that threshold. And if you look at the scores listed in your second link, they are mostly 1000-1120, or what would be considered benchmark scores. 

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3 hours ago, wendyroo said:

That is not exactly what the article said.

The school was flush with money intended to be used to support AP teacher planning time and consequently strengthen AP courses. (Now, whether that funding is justified is another question, but that is what it was given for.) A chunk of that funding was instead used to support students who needed remediation.

So, on one hand, yes, with lots of funding, some remediation clearly was possible. As the one teacher noted, she brought some of her F students up to B students. OTOH, she described Lowell in the past as a place where "students entered in the ninety-seventh percentile and left in the ninety-seventh percentile." And why shouldn't that type of place exist? 

Because I'm not convinced that "No one was harmed by their presence." As the one teacher said, "...to me, that says that anybody can be a Lowell student. It just required good support and attentive work from clever teachers. And time." So, again, at a school that used to devote its resources to the highest achievers, now a lot had to be used for remediation.

Also, clearly some of those 97th% students who no longer get into Lowell because of the lottery, such as the middle school valedictorian mentioned the in the article, are harmed by not getting into a school that was specifically designed to meet their needs.

And finally, I'm not convinced that being "joined by a rope" to a struggling student who doesn't do his work is harmless to the higher achieving students. The article paints a picture of a symbiotic relationship between Arin and Brandon, but Lowell had a 99% graduation rate, so clearly the Arin's of the school had always managed without also pulling along a struggling student. I was that Arin for my entire school career, and I can promise you that no matter how you spin it, being assigned to help my first grade peers with their work, when in my free time I was teaching myself long division and negative numbers, was not educationally beneficial to me at all.

Me helping my classmates was not meant to teach me anything, it was meant to take some of the load off of my teachers because they were faced with students who needed extensive differentiation and remediation and they did not have time to meet everyone's needs. So they put most of their time toward "the middle", whatever time they could scrape together toward those who needed remediation, and they ignored me entirely except to have me also help with the remediation effort. As a student in the class I deserved about 1/30 of the teacher's time, but instead I was receiving more or less none of it and was instead being called into service to act as a teaching aid.

My school district certainly did not offer a Lowell-like school, and private school was unimaginably expensive for us. So I could only dream of going to a school where teachers would actually teach me challenging things. And to hear that such a school does exist, and that they are moving to model where teacher will once again have to spend a chunk of their time remediating the F students instead of challenging the A students, makes me shake my head.

The financial choices the district made had nothing to do with the kids and aren't their fault. The consequences of those choices shouldn't be projected onto the students. The 'behind' students in the story ended up TEACHING THEIR PEERS too, not the other way around. If you learned NOTHING, not even recognizing the potential in other students, that's on you. My experience was the opposite. I learned THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD GO I and became MORE humble about the talents/insights all around me that went undeveloped.

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6 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

@wendyroo Being academically smart (gifted, or whatever word one prefers) is a privilege. Privilege is bad. Therefore those kids need to just say thanks they are smart and shut up. That’s the prevailing attitude here. 
 

Only the academics seem to be treated this way. No one says there should be a ban on music auditions and sports try-outs that wealthy people can sign their kids up at a young age or an end to pricey selective K-12 private schools that are clearly favored in college admission. And you don’t hear the “I don’t test well” excuse there simply because it’s not acceptable. The only time I see parents in my school district’s Facebook page complaining “You shouldn’t post this. Average students are important, too.” is when the district posts to praise academic excellence (ACT 36, NMF, etc.) while nobody questions when the school’s athletic team and individuals are celebrated. This prevalent entitlement and “participation trophy” mentality in academics is absurd.

 

I hear a lot of talks about how unfair a standardized test is for students who don’t test well and with disabilities. Well, life isn’t fair, or unfair equally to everyone. One of my kids is autistic and has a huge test anxiety. At home, with free and inexpensive resources, we are woking slowly and steadily to overcome this weakness over the time and it takes dedication and hard work as much as good grades in schools do. Honestly, the ceiling of SAT or ACT is so low that it’s not going to be nearly as difficult as participating in any group activities for her. School grades vary greatly from school to school and teacher to teacher. We need at least one objective tool of college readiness assessment. Even if it’s not perfect, I think these tests do well in assessing the very basic academic (reading, writing, math) skills that are required to *not fail* in college and it’s only one small piece of the whole admission process that I'm not sure why there’s such a big push back in this country. 

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26 minutes ago, Ad astra said:

Only the academics seem to be treated this way. No one says there should be a ban on music auditions and sports try-outs that wealthy people can sign their kids up at a young age or an end to pricey selective K-12 private schools that are clearly favored in college admission. And you don’t hear the “I don’t test well” excuse there simply because it’s not acceptable. The only time I see parents in my school district’s Facebook page complaining “You shouldn’t post this. Average students are important, too.” is when the district posts to praise academic excellence (ACT 36, NMF, etc.) while nobody questions when the school’s athletic team and individuals are celebrated. This prevalent entitlement and “participation trophy” mentality in academics is absurd.

 

I hear a lot of talks about how unfair a standardized test is for students who don’t test well and with disabilities. Well, life isn’t fair, or unfair equally to everyone. One of my kids is autistic and has a huge test anxiety. At home, with free and inexpensive recourses, we are woking slowly and steadily to overcome this weakness over the time and it takes dedication and hard work as much as good grades in schools do. Honestly, the ceiling of SAT or ACT is so low that it’s not going to be nearly as difficult as participating in any group activities for her. School grades vary greatly from school to school and teacher to teacher. We need at least one objective tool of college readiness assessment. Even if it’s not perfect, I think these tests do well in assessing the very basic academic (reading, writing, math) skills that are required to *not fail* in college and it’s only one small piece of the whole admission process that I'm not sure why there’s such a big push back in this country. 

I don't disagree that a single, objective tool would help. I disagree that the ACT and SAT can *ever* be it when standards vary so much nationally. WE DO NOT HAVE NATIONAL CURRICULUM OR NATIONAL STANDARDS. So students who are as prepared as they can possibly be from states/localities with weak standards will seem comparatively underprepared DESPITE having similar talents/abilities. SAT/ACT aren't IQ tests but folks want to act like they are. I don't understand why that's such a hard concept to grasp. Maybe it's the numbers vs. humanities gifts thing.

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2 hours ago, daijobu said:

 

This was published before the pandemic.  I've included some interesting excerpts below.  

https://stanforddaily.com/2019/02/21/students-educators-discuss-challenges-in-transitioning-to-stanford-from-under-resourced-schools/

“I’ve been told, ‘You just need to accept the fact that you’re not an engineer,’” she said. “And I did switch my major. It’s a harsh reality on this campus that many students are facing.”

"Despite this support, some students said they also felt unprepared for the rigor of Stanford classes, compared to students who had experience in college-level subjects during high school. Students specifically criticized courses such as the introductory chemistry series."

“It just seemed like everyone else around me but me had some kind of rigorous curriculum that helped them, that gave them an advantage when taking the class,” Adebagbo said.

“I felt like my professors automatically assumed that their students had a sufficient background to at least understand the concepts that they were presenting in the class,” Cusic said.

"Adebagbo grew up in Boston, and went to a school where only 26 students were part of her graduating class. She does not put her high school at fault for her difficult transition at Stanford."

“There’s only so much you can expect from a fairly new school,” she said. “So I think a lot of my anger [is] toward Stanford — you knew who I was when you accepted me. You knew the kind of high school I went to. You knew the environment I was coming from.”

“You accept a student like me into Stanford and you expect magically that I’ll figure myself out,” she said.

“I’ve been in situations where [professors] are teaching students like me, when I’m asking questions, and I can see the frustration on their faces, because I’m the one asking the questions that caused them to explain things from a basic level,” she said.

“I wouldn’t just say that having these resources on campus isn’t going to substitute or compensate for all those years of education that you didn’t have, or that access that you didn’t have before,” he said. “You can’t teach me something in 10 weeks that I didn’t learn for years.”

“I want to make sure that when [professors] are actually talking to you, they’re taking time to break down the concepts, and speaking to someone as if they’ve never been exposed to the material before,” Cusic said. “Not in a demeaning or degrading way, but approaching the material as if we’re starting from a very very new foundation.”

The Diversity and Access Office has worked with faculty through workshops centered on cultural humility, particularly with regard to professors’ attitudes toward students, Vasquez said.

“It’s not like after one workshop someone has eliminated their biases,” he said. “I also think that it’s not just individuals but it’s also systemic. It’s the way that certain academic policies are made, the way that certain courses are sequenced or the ways that majors are designed.”

Marcone, on the other hand, found chemistry professors very clear and helpful.  “Chem classes have been some of my favorite, and honestly the teachers have consistently surprised me by how good they are at explaining the concepts,” she said.

 “When you go to a school where everyone is on free or reduced lunch, or some kids come to school solely for the purpose of eating lunch because they don’t have food at home, that is a whole different environment.”

Cusic was also met with judgement from other students in the classroom when she asked simple questions, she said. She sees Stanford’s culture as skewed toward students who already know topics well when entering the classroom.  

“It’s not okay not to know right now at Stanford,” she said. “You have to know everything, or else you’ll look like a fool. I hate that.”

Bah hopes Stanford will make changes to its culture and be more open to accepting students from under-resourced schools.

All of this and my own experience and that of people from a similar background is why I say I see this whole debate from a somewhat different angle for STEM students. While I think it’s great Stanford is trying to address the issue, I  think it’s is also very valid to encourage talented students, especially those interested in STEM fields, from disadvantaged backgrounds to choose a school that may not be as highly ranked, but might be a better fit and more nurturing and allow them more time to catch up and still leave time for other things. Many LACs fit this model. Even the flagship state U here offers special support for intro chemistry including living on special dorm floors with academic TAs and other freshmen in your recitation section.
 

While some students from these backgrounds who choose the high ranked school will likely persevere and ultimately achieve their goals, I think the risk is higher that they will switch to less demanding majors, thus closing doors to some (often lucrative) careers. So while it can be argued that going to a tippy top school opens doors, it can also close others, especially when it comes to STEM careers.

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11 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

I don't disagree that a single, objective tool would help. I disagree that the ACT and SAT can *ever* be it when standards vary so much nationally. WE DO NOT HAVE NATIONAL CURRICULUM OR NATIONAL STANDARDS. So students who are as prepared as they can possibly be from states/localities with weak standards will seem comparatively underprepared DESPITE having similar talents/abilities. SAT/ACT aren't IQ tests but folks want to act like they are. I don't understand why that's such a hard concept to grasp. Maybe it's the numbers vs. humanities gifts thing.

But isn’t that why SAT or ACT doesn’t test on specific content knowledge? These tests only test very basic reading comprehension, writing(grammar) and math (up to Alg 2) skills that can be developed through lots of reading, doing well in math classes at any high school or with Khan Academy and some free SAT/ACT prep resources. SAT2 used to test subject knowledges but they are gone. I don't see SAT/ACT as IQ tests but something achievable with practice. 

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1 hour ago, Sebastian (a lady) said:

The fact that a college will admit any student who meets a score threshold doesn't require them to turn down students who might be below that threshold. And if you look at the scores listed in your second link, they are mostly 1000-1120, or what would be considered benchmark scores. 

Of course. It is a sign of how they define ‘merit’ tho.

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6 minutes ago, Ad astra said:

But isn’t that why SAT or ACT doesn’t test on specific content knowledge? These tests only test very basic reading comprehension, writing(grammar) and math (up to Alg 2) skills that can be developed through lots of reading, doing well in math classes at any high school or with Khan Academy and some free SAT/ACT prep resources. SAT2 used to test subject knowledges but they are gone. I don't see SAT/ACT as IQ tests but something achievable with practice. 

If you do *any* deep dive into the history and import of these tests you’ll find a very narrow, Eurocentric, core of knowledge that’s been deemed ‘core’. Beyond that, what’s covered in core courses like algebra and geometry and calculus is different nationwide. If you’re relying on robust internet access to level the playing field, again, WRONG. It wasn’t until 5 years ago that rural schools (let alone homes) in AR had access to robust, affordable, internet. It’s super annoying to have people take for granted that the resources and assistance they have/provide are universally available to talented students. They are not.

Edited by Sneezyone
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And until every resource is equally available to every student…. 

No matter what people suggest, always a reason why it isn’t good enough. This seems to be the way entire country functions now - awaiting the perfect utopia of equal opportunities and equivalent outcomes. 
 

I will say bravo to MIT for common sense and not being afraid to go against the populist current. 

Edited by Roadrunner
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3 hours ago, daijobu said:

 

This was published before the pandemic.  I've included some interesting excerpts below.  

https://stanforddaily.com/2019/02/21/students-educators-discuss-challenges-in-transitioning-to-stanford-from-under-resourced-schools/

I think this cuts in both directions. The student knew the kind of school she is coming from. She should know will need to seek out resources and classes that she will succeed in. The colleges do try but there is no way it is equitable now. The fact that over 35% of high schools don’t offer physics almost shuts out these students from pursing engineering. Our top engineering school here requires students to come in ready to start at calculus, but over 95% of the students come in with calculus. Those that don’t often take longer to graduate as a lot of the classes have that as pre-requisite. I think as a country we need to and we can do better to increase the quality of schools all around and not just have a single Lowell in a district. What of the art or humanities students or those interested in business who are good but not exceptional? 

Edited by Lilaclady
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35 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

Of course. It is a sign of how they define ‘merit’ tho.

The schools listed in the CollegePrep article on automatic merit aid include:

  • Baylor University
  • Clemson University
  • Colorado State University
  • Florida A&M
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Georgia State
  • Texas Tech
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nevada at Las Vegas
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Tennessee
  • University of Texas at Arlington
  • Utah State University

These are not highly rejective colleges. At least a few of the colleges listed have automatic tuition discounts for SAT scores in the 1100s. Some have a table for automatic awards such that the higher the gpa, the lower the required test score is for the same discount.

 

 

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45 minutes ago, Frances said:

All of this and my own experience and that of people from a similar background is why I say I see this whole debate from a somewhat different angle for STEM students. While I think it’s great Stanford is trying to address the issue, I  think it’s is also very valid to encourage talented students, especially those interested in STEM fields, from disadvantaged backgrounds to choose a school that may not be as highly ranked, but might be a better fit and more nurturing and allow them more time to catch up and still leave time for other things. Many LACs fit this model. Even the flagship state U here offers special support for intro chemistry including living on special dorm floors with academic TAs and other freshmen in your recitation section.
 

While some students from these backgrounds who choose the high ranked school will likely persevere and ultimately achieve their goals, I think the risk is higher that they will switch to less demanding majors, thus closing doors to some (often lucrative) careers. So while it can be argued that going to a tippy top school opens doors, it can also close others, especially when it comes to STEM careers.

This is how I’ve advised my kids. Still, these named schools carry a cache that suggests students who pursue other paths are lesser. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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1 hour ago, Lilaclady said:

I think this cuts in both directions. The student knew the kind of school she is coming from. She should know will need to seek out resources and classes that she will succeed in. The colleges do try but there is no way it is equitable now. The fact that over 35% of high schools don’t offer physics almost shuts out these students from pursing engineering. Our top engineering school here requires students to come in ready to start at calculus, but over 95% of the students come in with calculus. Those that don’t often take longer to graduate as a lot of the classes have that as pre-requisite. I think as a country we need to and we can do better to increase the quality of schools all around and not just have a single Lowell in a district. What of the art or humanities students or those interested in business who are good but not exceptional? 

How does a student know this? Srsly? How? They earn straight As in their school in the toughest classes on offer and they know this because?!

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1 hour ago, Lilaclady said:

I think this cuts in both directions. The student knew the kind of school she is coming from. She should know will need to seek out resources and classes that she will succeed in. The colleges do try but there is no way it is equitable now. The fact that over 35% of high schools don’t offer physics almost shuts out these students from pursing engineering. Our top engineering school here requires students to come in ready to start at calculus, but over 95% of the students come in with calculus. Those that don’t often take longer to graduate as a lot of the classes have that as pre-requisite. I think as a country we need to and we can do better to increase the quality of schools all around and not just have a single Lowell in a district. What of the art or humanities students or those interested in business who are good but not exceptional? 

Yes!

Equal finding for school, higher quality training for teachers, universal availability of classes (if not in person at least free online through state offerings). And mentoring from community. I can’t believe this isn’t the case already. It’s outrageous.

 

Physics seems to be a real issue across the country. Our fancy public school offers a very rudimentary one (more like physical science with fun demonstrations) that doesn’t even have any math involved. I know kids failing out of STEM because they didn’t have solid physics at our PS. And we are supposedly a great district.  Really shameful. 

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It, personally, makes me nauseous to think I landed on top by virtue of geography, family (my aunt, not my parents) engagement and teacher advocacy and not talent/skill alone. That sense, developed by attending grade school in three VERY disparate states, shapes my view of these issues.

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3 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

It, personally, makes me nauseous to think I landed on top by virtue of geography, family (my aunt, not my parents) engagement and teacher advocacy and not talent/skill alone. 

That's how it is for everything.  Luck plays a far bigger role in the way our lives go than is generally acknowledged.

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52 minutes ago, EKS said:

That's how it is for everything.  Luck plays a far bigger role in the way our lives go than is generally acknowledged.

Yes, it is, but you don't see me advocating/trying anything and everything possible to KEEP the 'luck' factor in the equation, do you? I want all of these talented students to have equal access to both the prestige and knowledge that their talent/ability justifies and I see zero efforts to fund programs (even in liberal areas) to bridge these gaps. Part of what attracted me to my alma was it’s ROBUST town/gown relations. I used all four years to put my money where my mouth is, working in community outreach/higher ed outreach programs.  
I worked in that field for four years post college too. So many people talk about equity and don’t actually do Jack shit to achieve it, preferring, instead, to advocate only for  their own kids. That gets zero respect from me.

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A very immigrant perspective here. I just hope people would look around, no matter what their current circumstances, and realize that a legal right to live in this country is the single biggest lottery ticket in their hands. 

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On 3/29/2022 at 5:03 PM, kokotg said:

Yeah, I really don't know how much it matters. I don't know of any selective colleges that actually set firm cutoffs for test scores (as opposed to less selective public schools), so they've always been free to accept those kids who don't test well but have otherwise extraordinary applications. Going test optional means they can do it without bringing down the SAT/ACT averages they report, since those students are likely to apply without test scores. In Jeffrey Selingo's book that came out last year, every school he looked at except Vanderbilt, if I remember right, reported a much lower acceptance rate for students who applied test optional. I'm just not sure schools are really, for the most part, accepting different students because they're going test optional. It IS encouraging kids to apply to way more colleges than before, it seems, which changes the admissions landscape in a lot of ways. There are plenty of selective colleges with a long traditions of being test optional, and it seems to work well for them without affecting student preparedness, graduation rates, etc...I imagine it takes time for an admissions office to find its footing with test optional admissions, though, and all the newly test optional schools kind of got tossed in the deep end. 

Also, I can attest that at least the Women's Colleges that are test optional used test scores (Talent Search and PSAT) to decide who to recruit. So while L was recruited by several that were test optional long before COVID, the fact that every one of them had a line that stated that they had used such scores tells me that they're test optional only in the sense that you don't have to send in official scores from senior year, because they know, based on your 11th grade PSAT or your 7th grade CTY talent search grand ceremony medal that you're in the % band they recruit. Similarly, I know my teen got on Vanderbilt's radar due to their gifted program...same deal. I am 100% sure that it wasn't actually test optional so much as "your 7th grade ACT from the time you applied for summer camp here was great, so we're willing to let your lack of a new score slide since your GPA and transcript and recs show that same general level of performance" (we didn't get an updated score due to COVID cancellations until early November, at which point it was only useful in upgrading scholarships at schools with automatic matrices, since the common app and competitive scholarships were already in). 

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29 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

Yes, it is, but you don't see me advocating/trying anything and everything possible to KEEP the 'luck' factor in the equation, do you? I want all of these talented students to have equal access to both the prestige and knowledge that their talent/ability justifies and I see zero efforts to fund programs (even in liberal areas) to bridge these gaps. Part of what attracted me to my alma was it’s ROBUST town/gown relations. I used all four years to put my money where my mouth is, working in community outreach/higher ed outreach programs.  
I worked in that field for four years post college too. So many people talk about equity and don’t actually do Jack shit to achieve it, preferring, instead, to advocate only for  their own kids. That gets zero respect from me.

But isn't some of it parental choices?

My parents chose to prioritize education. They had me write book reports on the weekends, they bought me math workbooks as gifts, they took me to the library. 

Many of my classmates parents chose to prioritize sports. Their kids spent afternoons and weekends playing sports.

Other parents could prioritize popularity or music or nature or home repair. None of those are better or worse, but they will clearly impact how the child spends time and what skills they develop.

My parents couldn't have cared less about me playing sports, so by the time I was in high school my sports skills were certainly not good enough to get me onto a school team. It is not "unfair" that I would not have made a team, it was just a consequence of a choice made by my parents early on and me later. I also couldn't have played in the band because my time had been devoted to academics instead of music.

It is a very slippery slope if we start "rescuing" kids from their parents parenting choices. A parent is allowed to prioritize family culture over academics. A parent is allowed to prioritize sports over academics. A parent is allowed to prioritize Xbox over academics. And it is not unfair that a parent's choices impact the child's later educational opportunities...no more than it is unfair that all of a parent's choices impact the child's later life physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, religiously, sexually, artistically, etc. That is parenting.

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12 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

But isn't some of it parental choices?

My parents chose to prioritize education. They had me write book reports on the weekends, they bought me math workbooks as gifts, they took me to the library. 

Many of my classmates parents chose to prioritize sports. Their kids spent afternoons and weekends playing sports.

Other parents could prioritize popularity or music or nature or home repair. None of those are better or worse, but they will clearly impact how the child spends time and what skills they develop.

My parents couldn't have cared less about me playing sports, so by the time I was in high school my sports skills were certainly not good enough to get me onto a school team. It is not "unfair" that I would not have made a team, it was just a consequence of a choice made by my parents early on and me later. I also couldn't have played in the band because my time had been devoted to academics instead of music.

It is a very slippery slope if we start "rescuing" kids from their parents parenting choices. A parent is allowed to prioritize family culture over academics. A parent is allowed to prioritize sports over academics. A parent is allowed to prioritize Xbox over academics. And it is not unfair that a parent's choices impact the child's later educational opportunities...no more than it is unfair that all of a parent's choices impact the child's later life physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, religiously, sexually, artistically, etc. That is parenting.

Why in the name of God would ‘parental choices’ ever, EVER be a reason to deny an innocent child opportunities? Like this does not compute for me. This is so damn sick and twisted. If that’s the case, I’m gonna need everyone to take ‘best and brightest’ out of their vocabulary from here on out. It’s loaded, inaccurate, and gross.

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35 minutes ago, Dmmetler said:

Also, I can attest that at least the Women's Colleges that are test optional used test scores (Talent Search and PSAT) to decide who to recruit. So while L was recruited by several that were test optional long before COVID, the fact that every one of them had a line that stated that they had used such scores tells me that they're test optional only in the sense that you don't have to send in official scores from senior year, because they know, based on your 11th grade PSAT or your 7th grade CTY talent search grand ceremony medal that you're in the % band they recruit. Similarly, I know my teen got on Vanderbilt's radar due to their gifted program...same deal. I am 100% sure that it wasn't actually test optional so much as "your 7th grade ACT from the time you applied for summer camp here was great, so we're willing to let your lack of a new score slide since your GPA and transcript and recs show that same general level of performance" (we didn't get an updated score due to COVID cancellations until early November, at which point it was only useful in upgrading scholarships at schools with automatic matrices, since the common app and competitive scholarships were already in). 

Yeah, DDs 8th grade SAT put her on the radar for every school she wants to attend. So did mine. At the end of the day tho, taking the SAT in 6-8th is an INFORMED parent move, not standard, and not the norm, and certainly not something that I he average person expects to have to do/pay for.

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Just now, Sneezyone said:

Why in the name of God would ‘parental choices’ ever, EVER be a reason to deny an innocent child opportunities? Like this does not compute for me. This is so damn sick and twisted.

Parents are allowed to circumcise their children. They are allowed to cut body parts off newborn babies. That certainly denies a child opportunities...for the rest of their lives.

Parents are allowed to homeschool their children with relatively little oversight so they can more or less choose to not educate them at all. That certainly denies a child opportunities.

In several states, parents are allowed to let their 12(!!!) year olds get married. In many states they can prevent their child from getting an abortion. Both of those can throw a major monkey wrench into opportunities.

In many cases parents are allowed to choose whether to give their children medications. I drug the hell out of one of my kids, and I don't have a clue how that will impact him long term, and yet it is certainly within my rights to make that decision for him no matter the long term impacts.

So if a parent decides that professional sports are the best path for their child, that is entirely their prerogative. It is their right to encourage a child to ignore school and focus on sports, to not do homework, to spend hours practicing and come to school too tired to learn. They are the parent - it is their child -  it is not our place to tell them they are wrong.

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10 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

Parents are allowed to circumcise their children. They are allowed to cut body parts off newborn babies. That certainly denies a child opportunities...for the rest of their lives.

Parents are allowed to homeschool their children with relatively little oversight so they can more or less choose to not educate them at all. That certainly denies a child opportunities.

In several states, parents are allowed to let their 12(!!!) year olds get married. In many states they can prevent their child from getting an abortion. Both of those can throw a major monkey wrench into opportunities.

In many cases parents are allowed to choose whether to give their children medications. I drug the hell out of one of my kids, and I don't have a clue how that will impact him long term, and yet it is certainly within my rights to make that decision for him no matter the long term impacts.

So if a parent decides that professional sports are the best path for their child, that is entirely their prerogative. It is their right to encourage a child to ignore school and focus on sports, to not do homework, to spend hours practicing and come to school too tired to learn. They are the parent - it is their child -  it is not our place to tell them they are wrong.

That’s some BS. I have no further words. Circumcision and TV and vaccinations don’t have a damn thing to do with circumscribing a kid’s long-term life prospects. You do you. I just find this perspective abhorrent and gross.

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10 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

That’s some BS. I have no further words. Circumcision and TV and vaccinations don’t have a damn thing to do with circumscribing a kid’s long-term life prospects. You do you. I just find this perspective abhorrent and gross.

??

Circumcision cuts off a body part that will never grow back. It will forever impact a child's health and sexuality. I would argue that on a hierarchy of needs basis, that is far more important than if a student is allowed to take an AP class.

Vaccination is choosing between risk of side effects and risk of death. Both of those could have very, very serious long-term impacts...again much more consequential than a high school transcript.

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48 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

Yeah, DDs 8th grade SAT put her on the radar for every school she wants to attend. So did mine. At the end of the day tho, taking the SAT in 6-8th is an INFORMED parent move, not standard, and not the norm, and certainly not something that I he average person expects to have to do/pay for.

Which is one reason why the idea that test optional increases opportunities for students feels so wrong. It seems obvious that the test everyone takes (in my local district, it's a graduation requirement to take the ACT or Work Keys, and the district pays for it) is going to be more likely to do so than the one in middle school taken only by kids with informed parents. The PSAT might work for kids on the coasts, but in ACT country is only generally taken by those who have a good chance of making National Merit or other programs that use it as a qualifier. 

 

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5 hours ago, Ad astra said:

Only the academics seem to be treated this way. No one says there should be a ban on music auditions and sports try-outs that wealthy people can sign their kids up at a young age or an end to pricey selective K-12 private schools that are clearly favored in college admission. And you don’t hear the “I don’t test well” excuse there simply because it’s not acceptable. The only time I see parents in my school district’s Facebook page complaining “You shouldn’t post this. Average students are important, too.” is when the district posts to praise academic excellence (ACT 36, NMF, etc.) while nobody questions when the school’s athletic team and individuals are celebrated. This prevalent entitlement and “participation trophy” mentality in academics is absurd.

 

 

Having just shepherded a kid through music school auditions, I can say that those conversations absolutely take place about equity and, in particular, classical music. Probably not as much as they should, but people talk quite a bit about the role wealth plays in getting a kid to the level needed for conservatory admissions. If anything, it's more disturbing than the same conversations about academic college admissions. Looking at the roster of what kids made honor band in our very diverse district this year was eye opening. Nearly every single kid came from the wealthier northern half of the county...where the music programs start early and have money flowing in and where parents can afford private lessons. I mean, I take your point...people looking on the from the outside perhaps see music auditions as pure meritocracy and are fine with it. But when you look closer, just like with standardized tests (or with nearly ANY metric highly selective schools use in deciding whom to admit), wealth plays a HUGE role in which kids are "talented" enough to make it at the top levels of music. ETA: I don't mean quite as much cynicism as putting talented in quotation marks implies. My own music kid IS talented, but I have no illusions that he'd be where he is now without us throwing a whole lot of money at private lessons, orchestra fees, instruments, etc. We're not at all rich, but we're fortunate enough that we have the freedom to prioritize and sacrifice other things so we can do that.

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39 minutes ago, Dmmetler said:

Which is one reason why the idea that test optional increases opportunities for students feels so wrong. It seems obvious that the test everyone takes (in my local district, it's a graduation requirement to take the ACT or Work Keys, and the district pays for it) is going to be more likely to do so than the one in middle school taken only by kids with informed parents. The PSAT might work for kids on the coasts, but in ACT country is only generally taken by those who have a good chance of making National Merit or other programs that use it as a qualifier. 

 

It might and it might not. What it would show is who’s the best test taker among the students in that area, and that’s no small thing, but as a national metric of merit, it’s meaningless.

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2 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

A very immigrant perspective here. I just hope people would look around, no matter what their current circumstances, and realize that a legal right to live in this country is the single biggest lottery ticket in their hands. 

A lot of the immigrants coming here - and I’m one myself, already have somE advantage- they are well educated and are “hustlers” the ones who are not rarely leave their home countries. Most of my friends who came here already had bachelors or masters degree with no debt in our home country. They are no starting from negative like some here so it’s not a level playing field. 

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7 minutes ago, Lilaclady said:

A lot of the immigrants coming here - and I’m one myself, already have somE advantage- they are well educated and are “hustlers” the ones who are not rarely leave their home countries. Most of my friends who came here already had bachelors or masters degree with no debt in our home country. They are no starting from negative like some here so it’s not a level playing field. 

Not all. Most I know weren’t. This is simply untrue. 
At least this is simply untrue around me. Most people I know didn’t come on work visas. They scrubbed floors and took care of elderly for years, and took classes at night. 
 

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3 minutes ago, kokotg said:

Having just shepherded a kid through music school auditions, I can say that those conversations absolutely take place about equity and, in particular, classical music. Probably not as much as they should, but people talk quite a bit about the role wealth plays in getting a kid to the level needed for conservatory admissions. If anything, it's more disturbing than the same conversations about academic college admissions. Looking at the roster of what kids made honor band in our very diverse district this year was eye opening. Nearly every single kid came from the wealthier northern half of the county...where the music programs start early and have money flowing in and where parents can afford private lessons. I mean, I take your point...people looking on the from the outside perhaps see music auditions as pure meritocracy and are fine with it. But when you look closer, just like with standardized tests (or with nearly ANY metric highly selective schools use in deciding whom to admit), wealth plays a HUGE role in which kids are "talented" enough to make it at the top levels of music. 

I think those conversations are vitally important, because obviously kids' access to music education is wildly inequitable.

But I think the point many of us are trying to make is that while people are talking about the inequity, they aren't suggesting that auditions should be eliminated from the honor band selection process in order to allow kids who don't play well to participate.

If anything, I would say that fundamental academic skills are far more of a meritocracy than music education. Every public school student will get daily instruction in reading and math...the methods will vary, the quality will vary, the resources will vary, the home support will vary, but every student will get that instruction...which is far more than can be said for instrument lessons.

But for some reason, people accept that the value of honor band is in limiting it to students of a certain skill level...that if you let in anyone, no matter their playing level, that it would lessen the quality of the band and therefore the quality of the educational experience for the players, but then they balk at the idea that the same can be said of advanced academic classes.

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28 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

I think those conversations are vitally important, because obviously kids' access to music education is wildly inequitable.

But I think the point many of us are trying to make is that while people are talking about the inequity, they aren't suggesting that auditions should be eliminated from the honor band selection process in order to allow kids who don't play well to participate.

If anything, I would say that fundamental academic skills are far more of a meritocracy than music education. Every public school student will get daily instruction in reading and math...the methods will vary, the quality will vary, the resources will vary, the home support will vary, but every student will get that instruction...which is far more than can be said for instrument lessons.

But for some reason, people accept that the value of honor band is in limiting it to students of a certain skill level...that if you let in anyone, no matter their playing level, that it would lessen the quality of the band and therefore the quality of the educational experience for the players, but then they balk at the idea that the same can be said of advanced academic classes.

No, but people *are* talking about how to expand access to the programs that make kids better prepared for college and highly competitive programming (which is what access to challenging elementary, middle school and high school  programs do). It’s not enough to deny them at the college door, you want to deny them at age 6, 8, 10, and 14 too. It’s wrong to say kids need to be better prepared upon college entry and then decry their entry into feeder programs that increase their preparation. It makes it plain that the issue isn’t their preparation, it’s the very idea that they should access preparatory programs, catch up, and create more competition for your kids. It’s really, really, gross.

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9 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

No, but people *are* talking about how to expand access to the programs that make kids better prepared for college and highly competitive programming (which is what access to challenging elementary, middle school and high school  programs do). It’s not enough to deny them at the college door, you want to deny them at age 6, 8, 10, and 14 too. It’s wrong to say kids need to be better prepared upon college entry and then decry their entry into feeder programs that increase their preparation. It makes it plain that the issue isn’t their preparation, it’s the very idea that they should access preparatory programs, catch up, and create more competition for your kids. It’s really, really, gross.

You seem to be making some very derogatory accusations for not actually knowing me.

I tutor unprivileged kids.

I think one of my greatest educational weaknesses was that I never had access to competition.

And I certainly don't want to deny any qualified child access to any program.

I will bend over backwards and fully support funding for remediation...but I do not think that needs to be done within courses that students don't qualify for.

I tutor SO MANY 4th and 5th graders who can't add, can't recognize a half, don't understand place value, etc. Every year they are "remediated" within their math class...and every year they fall farther and farther behind, need more of their teacher's attention, and make it harder for the teacher to teach every other student the grade-level expectations.

I don't know if these students are destined for AP Calc, but I can guarantee that just putting them in more and more classes they are unprepared for will not magically make them competitive.

I have a son in public school, and his teacher fully admits that my son hasn't been taught anything new in math so far this year. Then again, per his teacher, the same is true of 5 OTHER KIDS in his class. That is 6 kids out of 26 that have not been offered anything new or challenging this year because of the level of the rest of the kids. That is almost a quarter of the children!! How is that an equitable system?!?!

If I were in charge of the schools, I would run them much more like a college lecture/recitation system. And the closer to either end of the bell curve a student fell, the fewer kids would be in their recitation...right down to intensive one on one or very small group tutoring as necessary.

But that would still be built on the premise that I needed to help every student reach their potential...which would include not allowing the struggles of some students to impede the educational advancement of others. 

Sheesh, not wanting competition for my kids...that is the opposite of what I want. I spent my entire school career longing for challenge and competition. I fully believe that steel sharpens steel and that my kids need competition.

Right now I am trying to get permission to enroll my 8 year old in a piano camp with students 7+ years older than him because that is where he will encounter peers that give him a run for his money. I fail to see how removing audition requirements and throwing him in a camp with anyone who "wanted to learn" would be providing him with more competition.

By all means, I believe there should free or lost cost music lessons offered to students beginning in 1st grade. My mom, who's family could not reliably put food on the table, took violin lessons through a parks and rec program...so we could do it 60 years ago. I believe we should be cultivating every student who is interested or talented in music. But I don't believe that the way to do that is by removing all barriers to entry to all classes and pretending that everyone has the same skills.

I can't reconcile the two positions you seem to be taking. On one hand, not enrolling a child in the AP version of a class because their parent prioritizes something else is seen as despicable...so it seems that you think the skills they learn in that AP class are very important to success in their later life. On the other hand, you don't seem to see any problem with enrolling a student in an AP class without the prerequisite skills...so somehow pre-AP skills are not particularly important for their success in the AP class.

I'm just taking the consistent position that prerequisite skills (in skill-based subjects) are always important, that enrolling unprepared students is not good for anyone, and that remediation should be early, often, intensive, and prior to entry into more advanced classes that require those foundational skills.

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4 minutes ago, wendyroo said:

You seem to be making some very derogatory accusations for not actually knowing me.

I tutor unprivileged kids.

I think one of my greatest educational weaknesses was that I never had access to competition.

And I certainly don't want to deny any qualified child access to any program.

I will bend over backwards and fully support funding for remediation...but I do not think that needs to be done within courses that students don't qualify for.

I tutor SO MANY 4th and 5th graders who can't add, can't recognize a half, don't understand place value, etc. Every year they are "remediated" within their math class...and every year they fall farther and farther behind, need more of their teacher's attention, and make it harder for the teacher to teach every other student the grade-level expectations.

I don't know if these students are destined for AP Calc, but I can guarantee that just putting them in more and more classes they are unprepared for will not magically make them competitive.

I have a son in public school, and his teacher fully admits that my son hasn't been taught anything new in math so far this year. Then again, per his teacher, the same is true of 5 OTHER KIDS in his class. That is 6 kids out of 26 that have not been offered anything new or challenging this year because of the level of the rest of the kids. That is almost a quarter of the children!! How is that an equitable system?!?!

If I were in charge of the schools, I would run them much more like a college lecture/recitation system. And the closer to either end of the bell curve a student fell, the fewer kids would be in their recitation...right down to intensive one on one or very small group tutoring as necessary.

But that would still be built on the premise that I needed to help every student reach their potential...which would include not allowing the struggles of some students to impede the educational advancement of others. 

Sheesh, not wanting competition for my kids...that is the opposite of what I want. I spent my entire school career longing for challenge and competition. I fully believe that steel sharpens steel and that my kids need competition.

Right now I am trying to get permission to enroll my 8 year old in a piano camp with students 7+ years older than him because that is where he will encounter peers that give him a run for his money. I fail to see how removing audition requirements and throwing him in a camp with anyone who "wanted to learn" would be providing him with more competition.

By all means, I believe there should free or lost cost music lessons offered to students beginning in 1st grade. My mom, who's family could not reliably put food on the table, took violin lessons through a parks and rec program...so we could do it 60 years ago. I believe we should be cultivating every student who is interested or talented in music. But I don't believe that the way to do that is by removing all barriers to entry to all classes and pretending that everyone has the same skills.

I can't reconcile the two positions you seem to be taking. On one hand, not enrolling a child in the AP version of a class because their parent prioritizes something else is seen as despicable...so it seems that you think the skills they learn in that AP class are very important to success in their later life. On the other hand, you don't seem to see any problem with enrolling a student in an AP class without the prerequisite skills...so somehow pre-AP skills are not particularly important for their success in the AP class.

I'm just taking the consistent position that prerequisite skills (in skill-based subjects) are always important, that enrolling unprepared students is not good for anyone, and that remediation should be early, often, intensive, and prior to entry into more advanced classes that require those foundational skills.

The problem is that your pipe dream would and never has actually happened, not at tbe college level and not at the elementary or secondary level because no one is willing to pay for that level of differentiation. So, functionally, it means locking the doors of selective programs on 9 year olds. That’s the reality.

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1 hour ago, Sneezyone said:

The problem is that your pipe dream would and never has actually happened, not at tbe college level and not at the elementary or secondary level because no one is willing to pay for that level of differentiation. So, functionally, it means locking the doors of selective programs on 9 year olds. That’s the reality.

But, alternatively, your plan (notice I just used the term "plan" instead of a derogatory label because I'm trying to have a respectful discussion instead of insulting you and calling you sick, twisted, abhorrent, and gross) leads to what I encountered for my entire time in school and now what my son is encountering...classes dragged down by the struggling students to the lowest level of expectations.

I was in a Spanish 5 class where over half of the students would have gotten a C or D if given a Spanish 1 exam. How were they supposed to function in Spanish 5. How was our teacher meant to actually teach those of us on-level?

And now 30 years later, my uncle teachers in a fifth grade class where (by his report) well over half of the students could not pass first grade reading and math tests. (And, no, this is not just pandemic related, this is the general level of achievement over the last decade.)

This is well documented and supported by state testing that shows that throughout the grades only about 40% of students are proficient in ELA and only about 30% in math.

I don't see how the answer is to allow more unprepared students into college-prep classes, so the very few proficient students have an even harder time gaining the skills they need to succeed in college.

Only 30% of the 11th graders in my district are meeting the math SAT benchmark, which means 70% can not demonstrate even basic algebra competency by 11th grade. Likewise, 60% cannot meet the reading benchmark - SAT passages are written at ~1300 Lexile level, so not meeting the benchmark means they are reading well below high-school level.

So, I don't see how lowering the AP entry guidelines is really a feasible plan if we want "AP" to continue to mean anything. It is supposed to mean "college level"...aka higher than high school...and as much as we wish all of our students were at that level...they aren't.

 

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9 hours ago, Sneezyone said:

How does a student know this? Srsly? How? They earn straight As in their school in the toughest classes on offer and they know this because?!

This is definitely a problem. I think I knew and most of my college bound classmates knew because so many had older siblings who went to college and reported back that it was a whole other world and we would have to up our game, especially if we were going to pursue something like engineering. My small, rural high school was very, very sports oriented, so I don’t think any of us were under the illusion that we had excellent academic preparation for college.

On the other hand, when my husband was a chemistry professor and participated in a program that brought high school students on campus for summer research, we were both shocked at some of the letters of recommendation he received from some small, under-resourced high schools. The teachers seemed completely unaware how unprepared their students were to go up against those from schools with IB programs or lots of math and science APs. The disconnect between what they wrote in their letters and what he saw in the students’ preparation and capabilities was pretty extreme. We kept saying to each other, how sad that these students probably think they are well prepared to go to college and be STEM majors.

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8 hours ago, Sneezyone said:

Yes, it is, but you don't see me advocating/trying anything and everything possible to KEEP the 'luck' factor in the equation, do you? I want all of these talented students to have equal access to both the prestige and knowledge that their talent/ability justifies and I see zero efforts to fund programs (even in liberal areas) to bridge these gaps. Part of what attracted me to my alma was it’s ROBUST town/gown relations. I used all four years to put my money where my mouth is, working in community outreach/higher ed outreach programs.  
I worked in that field for four years post college too. So many people talk about equity and don’t actually do Jack shit to achieve it, preferring, instead, to advocate only for  their own kids. That gets zero respect from me.

My large school district has the AVID program. The local LAC has an after school academy that works with students from disadvantaged backgrounds starting in middle school. When we lived in CO, I taught math for a few summers for Upward Bound, a program that some of my high school classmates participated in. So I do think there are some programs out there trying to bridge the gap.

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9 hours ago, Frances said:

This is definitely a problem. I think I knew and most of my college bound classmates knew because so many had older siblings who went to college and reported back that it was a whole other world and we would have to up our game, especially if we were going to pursue something like engineering. My small, rural high school was very, very sports oriented, so I don’t think any of us were under the illusion that we had excellent academic preparation for college.

On the other hand, when my husband was a chemistry professor and participated in a program that brought high school students on campus for summer research, we were both shocked at some of the letters of recommendation he received from some small, under-resourced high schools. The teachers seemed completely unaware how unprepared their students were to go up against those from schools with IB programs or lots of math and science APs. The disconnect between what they wrote in their letters and what he saw in the students’ preparation and capabilities was pretty extreme. We kept saying to each other, how sad that these students probably think they are well prepared to go to college and be STEM majors.

So, this is one of the points I keep making...

Education in the U.S. is decentralized and we do not have national standards for content mastery or teaching. There's nothing like 'generally accepted accounting principles' or 'standard of care'. Every state is free to run schools in as excellent or as mediocre a manner as they please with most students meeting up/mixing for the first time at the collegiate level. Their teachers are largely disconnected from that transition and, as a result, you get students like me. I'm dialing myself back today to explain why I get so bent out of shape about it.

When I was in kindergarten, so 1981-ish, I was tested for our district's gifted program. My parents knew I was precocious but they didn't have a clue about special programs or tracking (which was HUGE back then). My aunt, however, a Title 1 teacher (then Chapter 1) did. She told them to sign me up for testing. Lucky break #1. Testing today is still not universal. It's largely based on parent advocacy and teacher identification (which is a proven poor indicator, especially cross culturally).

I remained with the same cohort of students from 1st through 7th grade. No locals came in (only transfers) and no one left. We mixed only with other students for PE. It was isolating for me because those other students were my neighborhood friends. The students in my class lived across town. I learned from my classmates about schools like Stanford. One of my classmates had a sister attending who also worked as a page at the state capitol. Lucky break #2. I never would have known about those opportunities or schools without being around people who took them for granted. It was certainly nice to have intellectual peers in class. The thing was, they weren't my intellectual peers in all things. My neighborhood friends knew things that they didn't about how the world worked. They were smart too, smarter than me in many ways. No one seemed to see that but me. We had some of the best teachers in the school and the content we received was more in depth. Those advantages compounded over time. In all my time there, no onramps or opportunities for new students to join that cohort were ever developed. It struck me then, and still does, that this was wrong.

In 8th grade, I moved to Connecticut. It's known for solid schools and that was certainly my experience. It was the first time I'd ever heard of Strunk and White. We actually diagrammed sentences. I'd never done that before (among other things). Lucky break #3. Were the people in my former school less talented because diagramming wasn't part of the curriculum they'd been offered? No. No they weren't. Might their SAT or ACT scores be impacted by those differences in curriculum, yes. I learned to be very, very skeptical of national comparisons.

In 9th grade, I moved back to Washington state and then to California. In California, administrators decided my 9th grade, double block, combined ELA/history class would only count for one or the other subjects. They insisted that I take English 101 at the community college to stay on track to graduate. I did it. It was fine. Got a B, not too bad for a 14 yo. Lucky Break #4? It was increasingly clear to me that everyone doesn't have to jump through these hoops to get the courses they need or want. Every time I moved, every new school system I attended, I was made to prove myself (no cruising through on the upper track).

The last move, in 11th grade, was to Arkansas. It was, bar none, the worst school experience of my life. Because of all the moving, the people I'd gotten to know, the classroom experiences I'd had, I knew the busywork in my classes was some BS. The local teachers were 5000% certain their classes and school were top notch in every way. They resented incoming students whose very being suggested there was something lacking in their school. They didn't offer French IV or V, for ex. They told me I'd have to interview with the department chair at the U of A to get permission to enroll in French 1. After the interview, the chair said he wasn't sure any of the lower level classes would be a good fit so he put me in a conversation class. The kicker, I had to get myself to the college everyday and no transportation would be provided. My mom was a single parent and we had one car. I walked...until I couldn't do it anymore. In another instance, because school in CA started after labor day vs. August in AR. I'd missed a solid month of AP Calculus (and their summer assignments too). I was completely lost. The teacher blamed me, said she knew I was in the wrong class from the start, and didn't expect much from me anyway. She wasn't the only one who said some version of that either. My AP Euro teacher did too. I can't begin to tell you how much joy I got sending that witch a snarky thank you card after I got a 5 on the Euro exam (and a C in her class). I don't accept at face value teacher assessments of what their students are capable of because I was victimized by teacher assumptions, repeatedly. 

Those experiences, every last one, have made me extremely passionate about how talent identification occurs, the limited utility of comparing student talents across states using national tests, about the assessments teachers make of student potential, about all of it.

Programs like AVID and GEAR UP and UPWARD BOUND are only as good as the people running them. I support them. I helped build Washington State's GEAR UP program. It was so successful, the state legislature funded it after the federal grant ran out but it serves a handful of communities and schools statewide. That's a drop in the bucket. I loved working with JEP in college and watched it grow into the NAI program. NAI has REPEATEDLY demonstrated that these students can achieve at high levels and meet expectations for highly selective institutions if provided the tools and mentorship and wrap around services. Talent is everywhere and we squander it by only trying to serve those whose heads are already poking up. We need to look deeper and wider and do more.

Edited by Sneezyone
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It is not the job of universities to remediate students unprepared for their programs.  The fact that individual high schools don't have programs that match up to other high schools is not the problem of university.  It is also completely false that only elite universities are paths to success.   There are public universities that recognize this problem.  A speaker at my dd's honors program is a great example.  He thought he was prepared to jump directly into the 4 yr U program bc he was an A student at his high school (a public high school in SC).  The U recognized his academic success but also his academic gap compared to their U programs.  They admitted him into their Bridge Program which provided remedial courses to help him be equipped to succeed at the U.   And he did.  He shared his story, his initial frustration, but his thanks when he actually started in the 4 yr courses bc he says he would have been forced to drop out if he hadn't gone through the bridge courses bc he recognized just how inadequately prepared he was.  Even having gone through the Brigde Program, he said the work was harder than anything he had ever experienced in his education.

I personally don't think any private U owes any student admission.  The fact that schools like MIT offer so much generous financial aid to poor students is huge.   States do have an obligation for their high school graduates to pursue higher ed if students graduate with an advanced diploma, but even that does not mean state flagship unless they meet all criteria like GPA requirements/test scores, etc especially for certain high demand majors. Colleges require applications for a reason.  There are limited seats.  Other pathways to being accepted to higher demand programs are available and some students are going to have to take that path.

Life isn't fair.  That is just a fact.  I live in a state with a very poor public education system.   By far, attending an elite school like MIT would be a disaster for the vast majority of valedictorians.  No, they are not prepared.  It isn't fair for the student or the U to pretend otherwise.

Edited by 8filltheheart
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49 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

Talent is everywhere and we squander it by only trying to serve those whose heads are already poking up. We need to look deeper and wider and do more.

See, my perspective is informed by my experiences, is that we can start by actually serving those whose heads are already poking up.

I went to kindergarten (in 1986) in a small two room school. I entered K reading Matilda and doing multiplication, so this actually really worked for me. I was in a class with all the elementary students (all 20 of us), and the teacher taught by ability not age. I left K reading and doing math on a solidly 5th grade level.

I moved to a rural, mid-western school that did not believe in tracking of any sort. Per their testing, they offered to place me in second or even third grade, but my mom felt that would not be a good social fit (and realistically, not a good academic fit either) so she opted to put me in first grade. I was miserable. The teacher told me in no uncertain terms that first graders did not read Call of the Wild or learn about negative numbers...and that was that. I spent my elementary years bored out of my skull, severely bullied, and limited to "age appropriate" books during school time.

By middle school I was deeply depressed and disillusioned. I self studied and took the SAT for the first time in 6th grade...I got a score that would have comfortably placed me at our state flagship. I was still made to sit through all the typical 6th grade classes, but my parents also convinced the school to let me test out of most of the 7th and 8th grade classes so I could be bussed to the high school in the afternoons during 7th grade. The summer after 6th I took my first college class, psychology; I set the curve.

In 7th and 8th grades I took classes at the middle school in the morning and then got bussed to the high school in the afternoons. The problem was that the standards were so low at the high school that it was barely an improvement. Every class was dragged down by students who were nowhere near prepared (again, the district did not believe in tracking, so it was perfectly normal to have students in Pre-calc who could not reliably solve one step algebra equations). 

There were a handful of truly engaged, advanced students at that school, but stuck in a system build on mediocrity, we learned very little. I started running tests, and realized that teachers weren't even bothering to grade my work. They were just throwing As at the top because it wasn't worth their time to actually look through it since it was so, so much stronger than the rest of the dross being turned in.

Once I was actually high school age, I quickly started running out of courses to take. By 10th grade, I was taking Spanish and metal shop at the high school and dual enrolling the rest of my courses. I was providing my own transportation - and it was a long drive every day. The closest university was...simplistic to say the least. Looking back, I would realistically call what I was offered at the high school more middle-school-level. And what I was offered at the university was more high-school-level, but since I needed actual college level, it still was not a good fit.

I look at my educational journey, and I despair for all public education, and especially gifted education. I was forced to waste 12 years of my life. And I know that in many ways I had it "better" than many of my peers, but OTOH, I think I felt the lose much more keenly than most of them. They truly were content with friends and movies and sports and shopping...and working just hard enough to get mostly Bs and score just well enough on the ACT to get into a local college one step up from the community college. I have a hard time finding much compassion for them when they didn't want to work any harder, and the school was providing exactly what they and their parents were asking for - mediocrity (and sports, lots and lots of sports).

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@wendyroo (not disagreeing with you at all.....just expanding on my POV)  That local U was probably a good fit for most of the high school's graduates.  Taking most of those graduates with top GPAs and plunking them into MIT would have been like throwing a beginning swimmer into the deep end of the pool.  They would have to tread water and gasp for air and hopefully not drown.  

Making it to graduation should be the goal of a college education.  Failing/being completely academically overwhelmed/unable to carry a full courseload (not due to finances) due to inability to handle the work--all of those are reasons for NOT admitting students when admissions recognizes those likely outcomes.

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2 hours ago, wendyroo said:

See, my perspective is informed by my experiences, is that we can start by actually serving those whose heads are already poking up.

I went to kindergarten (in 1986) in a small two room school. I entered K reading Matilda and doing multiplication, so this actually really worked for me. I was in a class with all the elementary students (all 20 of us), and the teacher taught by ability not age. I left K reading and doing math on a solidly 5th grade level.

I moved to a rural, mid-western school that did not believe in tracking of any sort. Per their testing, they offered to place me in second or even third grade, but my mom felt that would not be a good social fit (and realistically, not a good academic fit either) so she opted to put me in first grade. I was miserable. The teacher told me in no uncertain terms that first graders did not read Call of the Wild or learn about negative numbers...and that was that. I spent my elementary years bored out of my skull, severely bullied, and limited to "age appropriate" books during school time.

By middle school I was deeply depressed and disillusioned. I self studied and took the SAT for the first time in 6th grade...I got a score that would have comfortably placed me at our state flagship. I was still made to sit through all the typical 6th grade classes, but my parents also convinced the school to let me test out of most of the 7th and 8th grade classes so I could be bussed to the high school in the afternoons during 7th grade. The summer after 6th I took my first college class, psychology; I set the curve.

In 7th and 8th grades I took classes at the middle school in the morning and then got bussed to the high school in the afternoons. The problem was that the standards were so low at the high school that it was barely an improvement. Every class was dragged down by students who were nowhere near prepared (again, the district did not believe in tracking, so it was perfectly normal to have students in Pre-calc who could not reliably solve one step algebra equations). 

There were a handful of truly engaged, advanced students at that school, but stuck in a system build on mediocrity, we learned very little. I started running tests, and realized that teachers weren't even bothering to grade my work. They were just throwing As at the top because it wasn't worth their time to actually look through it since it was so, so much stronger than the rest of the dross being turned in.

Once I was actually high school age, I quickly started running out of courses to take. By 10th grade, I was taking Spanish and metal shop at the high school and dual enrolling the rest of my courses. I was providing my own transportation - and it was a long drive every day. The closest university was...simplistic to say the least. Looking back, I would realistically call what I was offered at the high school more middle-school-level. And what I was offered at the university was more high-school-level, but since I needed actual college level, it still was not a good fit.

I look at my educational journey, and I despair for all public education, and especially gifted education. I was forced to waste 12 years of my life. And I know that in many ways I had it "better" than many of my peers, but OTOH, I think I felt the lose much more keenly than most of them. They truly were content with friends and movies and sports and shopping...and working just hard enough to get mostly Bs and score just well enough on the ACT to get into a local college one step up from the community college. I have a hard time finding much compassion for them when they didn't want to work any harder, and the school was providing exactly what they and their parents were asking for - mediocrity (and sports, lots and lots of sports).

My experience was that the pointy kids got help, as you did, even if it wasn't enough. I just didn't fit anyone's mold/idea of what a pointy kid is and they made sure I knew it at every turn. I'm not suggesting there shouldn't be more services available to gifted kids. I'm suggesting there are A LOT MORE gifted kids going unidentified than anyone wishes to acknowledge because they look more like apathetic dropouts, choosing not to play the game. I, functionally, dropped out myself in my junior year b/c it was so bad. I'm not talking about throwing the doors wide open to unqualified individuals. I'm talking about casting a much wider net to find qualified/potentially qualified individuals and get them to where they can/should be.

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