15%. Is That Failing?

Numbers 15Another homeschooling mom shared an online article in The Baltimore Sun about the dismal results of math tests given in 15 states, including Maryland, to determine how high schoolers would fair in their freshman college math class. According to the article “The Algebra II test was given to 100,000 students across the nation, including 1,295 in Maryland, and showed that nationwide, 15 percent are prepared for their first college course. The Maryland pass rate was equivalent to the national pass rate.”

Granted, I’m not convinced that the mastery of a skill is best determined via traditional testing. And I can’t swear that Morgan could walk in, plop down with his #2 pencil and pass the test. Not so much because of the subject matter. But because Morgan has never walked in anywhere with a #2 pencil and taken a test. Yet that whole teaching/studying to test has been these high school students’ educational mantra since Pre-K. I remember the deathwatch in M’s elementary school when the Maryland School Assessment tests were being administered.

I’d be curious if the tested kids were prepped in any way beforehand. I’m also assuming that when the article said most of the Maryland students tested were from Baltimore, they mean public schools in Baltimore City (where test scores, on average, are lower than surrounding counties.) But regardless of how skewed these results may be, an 85 percent failure rate is appalling. We all know if these results were from some type of standardize testing of home-educated kids (however illegal), Mommy-heads would roll.

One of my greatest responsibilities has been to help M be academically prepared to pursue his Life’s goals, including college. That doesn’t mean he’s Harvard-bound (even if we could afford it.) But if he can’t pass snuff to get into a State college (if we can afford even that), his failure will lay totally at my clay feet. We’ll see…

Ironically the test was created through the American Diploma Project “in an effort to raise academic standards and graduation requirements for high schools around the country.”

But don’t worry, this test “doesn’t count.” Because if it did, they’d just lower the testing standards.

Life Enrichment

microscopeWhat’s that? Well, apparently it’s the new buzzword for any type of activity where you’re not getting paid. You know, fun. Hopefully. And in the context I’m talking, it’s a non-credit class at a community college for Morgan, my 8th grader. Next year. That’s high school. Sweet Jesus.

Here’s an example:

High School Biology Lab-Part 2 $149?A two-semester course designed for homeschool students who are looking for additional laboratory experience to learn the basic concepts of biology. It provides an overview of the basic principles of biology including human biology, evolution, genetics, and ecology. Laboratory experiences teach and reinforce the use of scientific method in problem solving. This offers a broad introduction of biology to the non-science student, and provides an appreciation of the beauty and intricacies of the biosphere.

Today Morgan would shit his pants. But you know what? It’s coming. Maybe not this year, but that Bio course is exactly what we’re working towards. With our half-assed labs and spoon-fed scientific method, I’m preparing M for the day when hecan walk into a classroom (The World), participate in a semester-long program (Life) and come away “enriched (Happy).” All without me.

Some homeschooling families don’t seemed geared towards those academic goals, external educational opportunities or The Bigger Picture. Yet that type of investigative process just seems intrinsically important in a human’s experience. Every kid needs to flame-on a Bunsen burner, overflow a test tube or break a Petri dish. Plus we all have a dissection story. Pithing the frog’s brain is mine.

Luckily, Morgan continues to independently take nature workshops and programs at the library without any prodding. He’s certainly suffered through enough homeschoolers’ co-ops. And of course, there was first grade. “One-two-three! Eyes on me.” So given what I know about the nature of organized education, even if he couldn’t read or write to spec they’ll get him through. Especially for 150-bucks.