Where do we stand now?

I’ve kept quiet on the School4Schools.com blog over the past couple years. I think I’ve been overwhelmed by so much to discuss and so little clarity on any of it.

Back in 2019 I was gearing up our SAT prep resources, as I was sick of seeing kids punished by lack of preparation or poor or very expensive guidance from tutoring centers and private tutors. Besides, the SAT verbal offers an excellent opportunity to teach kids grammar, which has mostly gone missing in their K-12 years and is missing altogether in college. (See my SAT, grammar, and other resources on the School4Schools.wiki)

Lately, the online learning platform NoRedInk has taken over grammar teaching — unfortunately. Just ask the kids. Like most online learning platforms, it’s annoying, tiresome and effective only if you already know the material. I’m sure it works great for an engaged kid. Good luck with the rest.

(Like most school programs and resources, the kids who use them don’t need them and the kids who do don’t .)

Meanwhile, the SAT has sunk into a deserved irrelevancy for kids who in the past were not prepared for college but felt they had to take it anyway to get into a college. On the other hand, it has become even more burdensome for the kids who want the highest competitive advantage. I haven’t looked at any data, but the logic of the situation is that median scores are trending up as low performers drop the test and high performers push for highest possible score. It’s not healthy.

College Board’s response? Change the test. Dumb it down. Make it online. (Oh, and, guess what, that costs a helluva lot less to score than all those paper tests… So unsurprising.)

What’s going on w/ the College Board is no different from our schools in general.

My team and I have noticed that teachers and schools aren’t pushing kids, and failure is harder and harder to reach — which kids can still manage if they really want it. In our recent experience, only in states with graduation requirements, such as a state proficiency exam, have any real accountability. As opposed to a student with whom I’ve been working through fundamental US History concepts in order to pass a state exam in order to graduate, I know of a school in Philadelphia that just graduated a student who had over 100 absences the past year. Don’t bother trying to figure that one out, although one word might help: lawyers.

On the up side, kids are back in school, they’re playing sports, performing theater and music and going to camps this summer. While state and county public schools are more politicized than ever, and while I see it filter down to the classroom level (especially middle school and college — I think the high school kids are just sick of it, frankly), I’m confident in the innate distrust and rebellion in our teens for too many to be fully taken in.

There’s universal acceptance of climate change as our worst hazard (I see this in Math, English and History assignments, not just Science), and racism is an ongoing evil our kids are reminded of constantly.

Still, I’m seeing the ongoing Three Rs of readin’ ‘ritin’ and ‘rithmatic as much as than ever before, and Glory Be for it!

Wishing you and yours a happy summer and your children a fabulously successful school year 2022-23.

– Michael