Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Attn: College-Bound High Schoolers!

According to, "a study released today highlights the gap between what high schools are teaching in the college-preparatory courses and what colleges want incoming students to know." The survey, by ACT, Inc. (the testing people) "found that college professors generally want incoming students to have a deeper understanding of a selected number of topics and skills, while high school teachers in all content areas tend to rate a far broader array of content and skills as 'important' or 'very important.'"

Specifically, "In writing, postsecondary instructors tended to value the basic mechanics of writing (such as sentence structure and punctuation) more highly than high school teachers did. High school English teachers rated topic and idea development as the most important set of skills.

In mathematics, postsecondary instructors rated being able to understand and rigorously apply fundamental skills and processes as more important than exposure to more advanced math topics. High school math teachers tended to view the latter as important. Postsecondary instructors also placed far more emphasis on being able to understand new material by reading a textbook.

In reading, the survey found a general lack of reading courses in high school and a decline in the teaching of targeted reading strategies after the 9th grade. In contrast, college instructors of remedial courses rated such strategies as very important and reported devoting a large percentage of time to teaching them.

In science, high school teachers consistently rated content as more important to student success than science process or inquiry skills, in direct contrast to both middle school and postsecondary science teachers."

What does this mean for homeschoolers? I believe it gives us an edge over public school students in that we can more easily tailor our kids' education to what the colleges want, without having to overcome institutional bias.

Curriculum notes to myself:

Make sure the boys can write a grammatical sentence, create an outline with a strong thesis and write a persuasive essay following that outline, preferably in less than an hour. (Yes, I know that is a run-on sentence. ;-)

Make sure they can read and understand challenging literature.

Focus on fundamental math skills, no matter how much Wolfie complains. (Learning on their own from a textbook is pretty much standard procedure, isn't it?)

Continue to skip the make-work labs and "activities" in the science texts in favor of cramming more information into their little brains. Only do experiments when we genuinely don't know the results.

1 comment:

shaun said...

Hi, just discovered your blog! I am also a homeschooling parent in the Twin Cities. My daughter is much younger than your kids, though she is a huge fan of the Horrible Histories and Murderous Maths. I also read your post on long division -- ugh, it is the bane of our math. We whip through all kinds of stuff and then return to it, like running into a wall.
Anyhoo, looking forward to reading more!