LGP Education thread

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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby MWB on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:38 pm

Because there is money in testing. Follow the money.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby shmenguin on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:40 pm

ignorant politicians need simple charts and metrics to judge educational effectiveness. and thusly, we have standardized testing.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby King Sid the Great 87 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:42 pm

count2infinity wrote:King Sid,

You've pointed out all the problems you see with the education system and seem to very often take shots at teachers and how it's their fault that the education system is in its current state. What would you suggest to do to fix it? How do you attract top level brains to come to education? How do you fix problems in inner cities to make education more appealing and make it a matter of importance? How do you fix nepotism in many school districts?


I'll think about this. A couple off the top of my head:

Remove unions. They serve very little need in this country. If a union is removed (in general, not just teaching) and the conditions are terrible, people will quit. If people quit, demand for people will rise and the inducements (including salary) will rise to attract those people. Absence of a union makes it easier to remove ineffective employees. MWB mentioned the process isn't difficult, but I would guess it is costly because the union will fight it every step of the way. People don't join unions with the expectation that they are going to roll over and let the employer remove them. Unions remove market equilibrium from the equation. The quality of the supply of teachers becomes deflated and the salaries that teachers receive could in fact be less because people make the trade of salary for job security.

All stakeholders should be involved in review of all teachers. Parents, students, co-workers, administrators, etc. The primary determinant of pay (not in MWBs case) should not be years of service. It's the equivalent of moving students through the system.

Remove tenure. It creates too much comfort which leads to complacency. Complacency is not needed in schools.

These things would result in a negative short-term impact in terms of the number of people in the teaching profession. Weeding out people that do not want to be there isn't a bad thing. If too many (counting both good and bad) teachers leave and a shortage is created, school districts will up the ante to get more/better teachers in. The glut of people certified to teach keeps the incentives (other than personal satisfaction) to become a teacher very low if one has other options.

These are things that could be done within the purview of the school.

The problem of troubled school districts and low achieving students from homes that appear to not care is a larger problem. Don't know what the magic bullets are here. I'd probably suggest removing students from the traditional academic program at a young age if they don't want to be there or do not appear to have the inclination. This serves several benefits: Students that want to learn aren't held back in what is essentially a form of an inclusion classroom. Students that don't want to be there can have the option to learn a trade. In my view, there is going to be a mass shortage in this country of mechanically inclined people in the coming years. My generation (31) doesn't take cars apart and put them back together like the generation before me. I'm sure somebody smarter than me could think of other things like this. Bottom line: create more options than the traditional classroom. Make that mandatory instead of things like Common Core, NCLB, etc. We would likely end up with more productive citizens out of this....certainly wouldn't end up with any less.

Fixing the latter would take more to implement than the former, in my opinion. I'd prefer to see both started ASAP.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby pittsoccer33 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:43 pm

I always did pretty well on standardized tests so I never thought anything was wrong with them. I get the idea that they force you to cover certain things, but why exactly is that bad? I understand it could force the curriculum into places the teacher would rather it not go. Are there other reasons?

If you teach someone something why is testing their knowledge and ability to demonstrate what they learned a bad thing?
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby shmenguin on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:44 pm

King Sid the Great 87 wrote:All stakeholders should be involved in review of all teachers. Parents, students, co-workers, administrators, etc.


that's a pretty good joke
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby Rylan on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:46 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:I always did pretty well on standardized tests so I never thought anything was wrong with them. I get the idea that they force you to cover certain things, but why exactly is that bad? I understand it could force the curriculum into places the teacher would rather it not go. Are there other reasons?

If you teach someone something why is testing their knowledge and ability to demonstrate what they learned a bad thing?


Limits learning to only what is on the test.

In a lot of subjects you could see teachers wanted to expand on specific subject for whatever reason, but was unable to because they had to focus with whats on the test.

It also limits critical thinking in students by being facts only instead of expanding on knowledge and exploring more in depth into a situation or event or why it does what it does.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby shmenguin on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:46 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:I always did pretty well on standardized tests so I never thought anything was wrong with them. I get the idea that they force you to cover certain things, but why exactly is that bad? I understand it could force the curriculum into places the teacher would rather it not go. Are there other reasons?

If you teach someone something why is testing their knowledge and ability to demonstrate what they learned a bad thing?


i don't think those tests are just categorically bad, but it forces you to walk the line between "teaching" and "training for tests". the difference between the 2 seems small, but it can make a world of difference in reaching children.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby MWB on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:49 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:I always did pretty well on standardized tests so I never thought anything was wrong with them. I get the idea that they force you to cover certain things, but why exactly is that bad? I understand it could force the curriculum into places the teacher would rather it not go. Are there other reasons?

If you teach someone something why is testing their knowledge and ability to demonstrate what they learned a bad thing?


I spend 180 days teaching a kid. Why should that boil down to two 2.5 hour tests (especially for a 3rd grader)? I have no problem with evaluating students, but why one big test? Tests should be used to collect information about the student and then determine what information they still need to gain. It used to be okay to have the teacher be responsible for this (ie, a unit test at the end of a math unit). But someone decided that the teacher wasn't responsible enough to determine what the kids know through their evaluation, so there had to be one big test for everyone.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby count2infinity on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:55 pm

So how exactly are the schools that cannot currently meet budgets going to get rid of the "bad teachers" and then increase salaries to try to lure in "good teachers"? How will the review be done? Send out a survey and whatever you get back from the survey dictates your pay? Are you going to have 7 year olds help to determine how much money a teacher makes? I agree with a number of things that you've said, but it doesn't solve much to be able to just say, "Well, we fire bad teacher and hire good ones... problem solved." There needs to be more to it than that.

I do agree with creating options beyond the traditional classroom. I think in this thread I've brought up my vision of what a public school system should look like and I put it in terms of where I taught (Bedford County). There are 6 school districts in Bedford County. Three are quite large (relative to the others). I would leave two of those as your "traditional" high schools since they are large and one is on the western half of the county, the other on the eastern half. For students going to those school they go to whichever one is geographically closest to them and away they go. I would make the centralized one the "honors" school. Those that are upper echelon students can apply to go there and if they test in 8th grade to a certain standard to get in, they can go there free of charge. This school would have many more advanced classes to allow students to excel and have more opportunity than they would at a normal rural school district. That leaves 3 schools left: Vocational/technical, music and arts, and agricultural. Make each available to those that want to go there, still teach math, science, english, history, but allow the teachers to lean those subjects in the direction of their field. Speaking from experience, there are so many chemistry lessons that I did or could have taught that are directed toward fuels, motors, and oil mining because I had a classes that were very interested in those things, and since I had students that were actually interested they excelled much further in those chapters than they did in others. It's a vision I have had for a long time now, but It's very likely to never catch on.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby MWB on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:57 pm

King Sid the Great 87 wrote:
I'll think about this. A couple off the top of my head:

Remove unions. They serve very little need in this country. If a union is removed (in general, not just teaching) and the conditions are terrible, people will quit. If people quit, demand for people will rise and the inducements (including salary) will rise to attract those people. Absence of a union makes it easier to remove ineffective employees. MWB mentioned the process isn't difficult, but I would guess it is costly because the union will fight it every step of the way. People don't join unions with the expectation that they are going to roll over and let the employer remove them. Unions remove market equilibrium from the equation. The quality of the supply of teachers becomes deflated and the salaries that teachers receive could in fact be less because people make the trade of salary for job security.

All stakeholders should be involved in review of all teachers. Parents, students, co-workers, administrators, etc. The primary determinant of pay (not in MWBs case) should not be years of service. It's the equivalent of moving students through the system.

Remove tenure. It creates too much comfort which leads to complacency. Complacency is not needed in schools.

These things would result in a negative short-term impact in terms of the number of people in the teaching profession. Weeding out people that do not want to be there isn't a bad thing. If too many (counting both good and bad) teachers leave and a shortage is created, school districts will up the ante to get more/better teachers in. The glut of people certified to teach keeps the incentives (other than personal satisfaction) to become a teacher very low if one has other options.

These are things that could be done within the purview of the school.

The problem of troubled school districts and low achieving students from homes that appear to not care is a larger problem. Don't know what the magic bullets are here. I'd probably suggest removing students from the traditional academic program at a young age if they don't want to be there or do not appear to have the inclination. This serves several benefits: Students that want to learn aren't held back in what is essentially a form of an inclusion classroom. Students that don't want to be there can have the option to learn a trade. In my view, there is going to be a mass shortage in this country of mechanically inclined people in the coming years. My generation (31) doesn't take cars apart and put them back together like the generation before me. I'm sure somebody smarter than me could think of other things like this. Bottom line: create more options than the traditional classroom. Make that mandatory instead of things like Common Core, NCLB, etc. We would likely end up with more productive citizens out of this....certainly wouldn't end up with any less.


There are some decent ideas here, especially in the last paragraph. However, we need to think about the next step in some of the other things. Salaries won't rise unless the people who make the budgets are willing to make changes in how money is spent. That's regardless of the quality of teacher. There are states that don't have unions, and they are not performing at a better rate than union states. Fine, take away tenure. Just let me know what you're replacing it with before you flush my tenure down the toilet. Replace it with something that makes sense and will evaluate and help improve the teacher. I agree with shmenguin that parents and teachers shouldn't be the ones evaluating. Way too many axes to grind. Principals can take those opinions into account with their evaluation.
Last edited by MWB on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby count2infinity on Thu Aug 15, 2013 1:58 pm

pittsoccer33 wrote:I always did pretty well on standardized tests so I never thought anything was wrong with them. I get the idea that they force you to cover certain things, but why exactly is that bad? I understand it could force the curriculum into places the teacher would rather it not go. Are there other reasons?

If you teach someone something why is testing their knowledge and ability to demonstrate what they learned a bad thing?


while teaching I had mostly 11th graders (a testing year). I had to fully stop all of my lessons for about 2 months of the year to prep them for the science test (included biology, geology, astronomy... i.e. things that I needed to study myself before I taught it to them) AND to allow them to take the test. While they were testing we were not allowed to assign homework, give quizzes, tests, etc. So much time is lost just due to testing it's ridiculous.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby pittsoccer33 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:11 pm

Is it really that hard to identify the best teachers? The few friends I still talk to from high school (two of which are teachers) and I talk about this. We all just had this general sense of who was the best - the most engaging, interesting, demanding, and caring.

One of my best friends is the head of the english department at Seneca Valley. We had a really long talk about The Great Gatsby. I read that in 11th grade and thought it was stupid. I didn't get it, didn't understand it. I read "Gatsby throws a party" and I imagine a few adults sitting in a parlor room, sipping drinks, listening to a phonograph. I read it again a few years ago again and loved it - by that point I'd met people like Daisy, Nick, and Jay. I got the concept of what an "adult party" was like because I'd thrown them in college, for many of the same reasons Gatsby does.

But none of that was remotely relevant to me as a 16 year old and consequently was why I quit reading for years.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby AlexPKeaton on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:18 pm

The problem with education is that it is handled like a centralized planned economy. This is done everywhere in all countries. Totally socialistic. This works great in countries that are completely homogeneous like the Godwins. But in the US, if we transferred to a decentralized system, I'm not sure there would be any drawbacks. Sure you would have a bunch of southern schools teaching creationism, but I'm of the opinion that it is no big deal. How many evolutionary biologist do we need anyway? I'm sure the blue states could produce enough to keep national geographic supplied with articles. The elite school districts would get more elite. They could pull a Microsoft and cull the bottom 10% of teachers every year, they could require teachers to be published academics, they could do whatever they want and pay whatever the tax payers are willing to pay.

And the poor NE ghetto school districts could simply fire all their teachers and replace them with retired drill sergeants, which is the smart move anyway. Without standardized tests to worry about, these schools could stop bothering with knowledge useful only for the college-bound, and start focusing on life skills.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby King Sid the Great 87 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:18 pm

MWB wrote:There are some decent ideas here, especially in the last paragraph. However, we need to think about the next step in some of the other things. Salaries won't rise unless the people who make the budgets are willing to make changes in how money is spent. That's regardless of the quality of teacher. There are states that don't have unions, and they are not performing at a better rate than union states. Fine, take away tenure. Just let me know what you're replacing it with before you flush my tenure down the toilet. Replace it with something that makes sense and will evaluate and help improve the teacher. I agree with shmenguin that parents and teachers shouldn't be the ones evaluating. Way too many axes to grind. Principals can take those opinions into account with their evaluation.


I don't think I have a problem with grandfathering of tenure. While I don't agree with it, it isn't fair to take it away from teachers who counted it as part of the rules when they signed up. I'd definitely cease offering it any longer.

Parents should definitely have a say in evaluations. I would surmise that an experienced professional could quickly discern between a parent with constructive criticism and one with an axe to grind and weight the feedback accordingly No offense, but when I have kids and they are in school, the principal will be getting feedback from me (positive and negative) regardless of whether or not the school district solicits it. If you want to improve a product, you get input from as many places as possible. Reasonable minds can filter through the noise.

This would be even more obvious when a principal looked at an evaluation from a peer because the principal should have regular actions with all of the teachers.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby Pavel Bure on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:29 pm

King Sid the Great 87 wrote:
MWB wrote:There are some decent ideas here, especially in the last paragraph. However, we need to think about the next step in some of the other things. Salaries won't rise unless the people who make the budgets are willing to make changes in how money is spent. That's regardless of the quality of teacher. There are states that don't have unions, and they are not performing at a better rate than union states. Fine, take away tenure. Just let me know what you're replacing it with before you flush my tenure down the toilet. Replace it with something that makes sense and will evaluate and help improve the teacher. I agree with shmenguin that parents and teachers shouldn't be the ones evaluating. Way too many axes to grind. Principals can take those opinions into account with their evaluation.


I don't think I have a problem with grandfathering of tenure. While I don't agree with it, it isn't fair to take it away from teachers who counted it as part of the rules when they signed up. I'd definitely cease offering it any longer.

Parents should definitely have a say in evaluations. I would surmise that an experienced professional could quickly discern between a parent with constructive criticism and one with an axe to grind and weight the feedback accordingly No offense, but when I have kids and they are in school, the principal will be getting feedback from me (positive and negative) regardless of whether or not the school district solicits it. If you want to improve a product, you get input from as many places as possible. Reasonable minds can filter through the noise.

This would be even more obvious when a principal looked at an evaluation from a peer because the principal should have regular actions with all of the teachers.

Okay but back to your original point of there being too many teachers if you want them to take feedback from all sources that would require more people being employed to sort through the feedback. Too many teachers according to you is a problem. I'm sure you have a view and it makes sense in your head but it's not translating well to what you're typing in this space.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby since1970 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:31 pm

Teaching is like any work environment, it's going to be hit and miss, even when we were number one in the world there were bad teachers, and I would even guess the percentage was pretty close to the same good to bad. I have noticed the distractions for children these days is almost limitless, and parental involvment has decreased. When I went to my room to do my homework back in the stone age my distraction was day dreaming or the radio, or I did it in the dining room with the TV off and one of the parents casually strolling by to make sure it was homework I was doing. Social media was the telephone, and until I had one istalled in my room and paid for it every time I picked it up I was asked who are you calling, and if the answer wasn't someone they thought I should be talking to right then, it was you can see them tomorrow in school. I don't know if teachers just up and became ineffectual. I find that hard to believe. To the teachers out there, do they still call parents to let them know their child is having issues academically or behavioral? I know I was a problem student up until the figured out I was just bored, and do they still teach according to ability, or is everyone in one class reagardless?
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby shmenguin on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:32 pm

King Sid the Great 87 wrote:Parents should definitely have a say in evaluations. I would surmise that an experienced professional could quickly discern between a parent with constructive criticism and one with an axe to grind and weight the feedback accordingly No offense, but when I have kids and they are in school, the principal will be getting feedback from me (positive and negative) regardless of whether or not the school district solicits it. If you want to improve a product, you get input from as many places as possible. Reasonable minds can filter through the noise.


there's a difference between offering feedback and having a say in evaluations. you'll be allowed to do the former. you have no business doing the latter. unless you're saying that offering feedback to the principal is basically the same thing as having a say in evaluations - in which case, there's nothing to change since this already exists.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby Pavel Bure on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:34 pm

AlexPKeaton wrote:The problem with education is that it is handled like a centralized planned economy. This is done everywhere in all countries. Totally socialistic. This works great in countries that are completely homogeneous like the Godwins. But in the US, if we transferred to a decentralized system, I'm not sure there would be any drawbacks. Sure you would have a bunch of southern schools teaching creationism, but I'm of the opinion that it is no big deal. How many evolutionary biologist do we need anyway? I'm sure the blue states could produce enough to keep national geographic supplied with articles. The elite school districts would get more elite. They could pull a Microsoft and cull the bottom 10% of teachers every year, they could require teachers to be published academics, they could do whatever they want and pay whatever the tax payers are willing to pay.

And the poor NE ghetto school districts could simply fire all their teachers and replace them with retired drill sergeants, which is the smart move anyway. Without standardized tests to worry about, these schools could stop bothering with knowledge useful only for the college-bound, and start focusing on life skills.

The rest of the world actually does this by first having the students take those standardized tests. The ones that aren't smart enough and don't score high enough to get into good high schools attend high schools/trade schools that prepare them for life working in the service industry. Those that pass those standardized tests continue with higher education. As I said a page or 2 back the rest of the world treats education as producing a class higher than the working man. For whatever reason the U.S. treats education as something for everyone and quite frankly it's not. I don't know why it's such a bad thing to say, education is good, but it's not good for everyone.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby since1970 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:37 pm

we took standardized tests to slot us according to ability, and I know for a fact high school guidance counselors telling parents of friends of mine their child was not college material, this is why we had vo-tech, or has that all but disappeared...
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby shmenguin on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:44 pm

since1970 wrote:we took standardized tests to slot us according to ability, and I know for a fact high school guidance counselors telling parents of friends of mine their child was not college material, this is why we had vo-tech, or has that all but disappeared...


college is so easy these days, i think it would be disingenuous to say a kid isn't "college material"
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby pittsoccer33 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:51 pm

shmenguin wrote:
since1970 wrote:we took standardized tests to slot us according to ability, and I know for a fact high school guidance counselors telling parents of friends of mine their child was not college material, this is why we had vo-tech, or has that all but disappeared...


college is so easy these days, i think it would be disingenuous to say a kid isn't "college material"


Thats exactly the point - college is about learning. Most 18 year old (and I was one of them) are worried about career training/and or career validation.

My sister had no business going to college, at least not full time. She went for creative writing. Shes a cocktail waitress with $30,000 of debt. She could've been a cocktail waitress without the debt.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby Pavel Bure on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:52 pm

shmenguin wrote:
since1970 wrote:we took standardized tests to slot us according to ability, and I know for a fact high school guidance counselors telling parents of friends of mine their child was not college material, this is why we had vo-tech, or has that all but disappeared...


college is so easy these days, i think it would be disingenuous to say a kid isn't "college material"

While I agree college is easy it's certainly not for everyone. I had people attempting to go through the teaching program that simply could not pass the Praxis level 1 exams. Those are what I would describe to be on an about 4th grade level. They still were able to graduate with a degree in education services but that's a useless degree and the pitch to them was "take this degree then come back, get your masters, and get certified to teach." the problem was they couldn't pass the lowest level exam to become a teacher. So they wasted nearly 50k in undergrad for a useless degree and are about to waste 20-30k more going for a masters in something they can't achieve. Not everyone is college material whether college is easy or not.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby Rylan on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:54 pm

Pavel Bure wrote:
shmenguin wrote:
since1970 wrote:we took standardized tests to slot us according to ability, and I know for a fact high school guidance counselors telling parents of friends of mine their child was not college material, this is why we had vo-tech, or has that all but disappeared...


college is so easy these days, i think it would be disingenuous to say a kid isn't "college material"

While I agree college is easy it's certainly not for everyone. I had people attempting to go through the teaching program that simply could not pass the Praxis level 1 exams. Those are what I would describe to be on an about 4th grade level. They still were able to graduate with a degree in education services but that's a useless degree and the pitch to them was "take this degree then come back, get your masters, and get certified to teach." the problem was they couldn't pass the lowest level exam to become a teacher. So they wasted nearly 50k in undergrad for a useless degree and are about to waste 20-30k more going for a masters in something they can't achieve. Not everyone is college material whether college is easy or not.


Nothing annoyed me more than English classes in college where the person wrote and read on level that was less than satisfactory for a college student.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby since1970 on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:55 pm

shmenguin wrote:
since1970 wrote:we took standardized tests to slot us according to ability, and I know for a fact high school guidance counselors telling parents of friends of mine their child was not college material, this is why we had vo-tech, or has that all but disappeared...


college is so easy these days, i think it would be disingenuous to say a kid isn't "college material"



wow, too easy, that is not good, it's been 31 yrs since I was on a college campus, so I guess things have changed.
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Re: LGP Education thread

Postby Pavel Bure on Thu Aug 15, 2013 2:57 pm

Rylan wrote:
Pavel Bure wrote:
shmenguin wrote:
since1970 wrote:we took standardized tests to slot us according to ability, and I know for a fact high school guidance counselors telling parents of friends of mine their child was not college material, this is why we had vo-tech, or has that all but disappeared...


college is so easy these days, i think it would be disingenuous to say a kid isn't "college material"

While I agree college is easy it's certainly not for everyone. I had people attempting to go through the teaching program that simply could not pass the Praxis level 1 exams. Those are what I would describe to be on an about 4th grade level. They still were able to graduate with a degree in education services but that's a useless degree and the pitch to them was "take this degree then come back, get your masters, and get certified to teach." the problem was they couldn't pass the lowest level exam to become a teacher. So they wasted nearly 50k in undergrad for a useless degree and are about to waste 20-30k more going for a masters in something they can't achieve. Not everyone is college material whether college is easy or not.


Nothing annoyed me more than English classes in college where the person wrote and read on level that was less than satisfactory for a college student.

No doubt on that. I'm not a good writer and I was world's better than I'd say 90% of my peers.
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