An article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal reported that fewer than 25% of this year’s high school grads who took the ACT college-entrance exam, had the necessary academic skills in math, reading, English and science required to pass entry-level college courses. Yet elementary school students improved on national achievement exams. So why the desultory results for our high school students?
Experts, quoted in the Journal, fault the lack of rigor in high-school courses. “High schools are the downfall of American school reform,” said Jack Jennings, president of the Center on Education Policy. “We haven’t figured out how to improve them on a broad scope and if our kids aren’t dropping out physically, they are dropping out mentally.”
Looking ahead, what can parents of elementary school children do to ensure this does not happen to their children when they reach high school? Make sure your child reads at least at grade level, preferably above grade level. Fill you home with books. Read to your child. At the same time, set the example by reading not only the daily news whether in a newspaper or on your PC. Read for pleasure. Go to the library together and pick out books. Make books a vital part of your life. If you do this, your child will develop the necessary skills in reading and English.
As a former university English composition instructor, I can attest that the students who loved to read and were voracious readers had the greatest fluency in writing. They knew how to compose coherent sentences and paragraphs and knew the rules of grammar. They also had excellent vocabularies.
Encourage your child to read across disciplines. Bring home science books and history books to expand your child’s horizon. Have a summer reading list. If you’re child is going to be busy with sports in the fall, why not ask for next year’s reading list and have your child read some of these during the summer? If you begin this in the elementary years, you more than likely have turned your child into a good student. Continue this in middle school. In high school, have your child take AP course, the most rigorous courses. If not available, seek a better school or supplement your child’s education with your own reading list. Take your child to museums if you live in a big city. When you travel, seek these out.
Regrettably, reform in our schools comes slowly. The teacher’s union is powerful. It is resistant to change. Good teachers tire of battling complacent administrators and leave. Parents tire of battling administrators and opt to homeschool. Whether you homeschool or not, recognize that YOU are your child’s first and primary teacher. The school may schortchange your child but you as a parent should not.
……………………………………………The WSJ article can be found at: online.wsj.com/…/SB20001424052748703824304575435831555726858.html –