4. The best chapter is titled: “What Does a High School that prepares its students for college success look like?”  It alone could be a useful faculty reading, and then guide reflection.   It repeatedly offers strong 21st century recommendations, such as to take students to deeper understanding of math concepts and problem solving.  “Students enter college [unfortunately] expecting assignments and tests with clear right and wrong answers that do not require much interpretation or even thinking.   When interpretation is required, they often assume that any kind of interpretation will be acceptable and are surprised and even offended when they are told that they must apply certain disciplinary rules of thinking and analysis.”   Here Conley calls for “Exit standards: a set of culminating exams, projects, or requirements that students must accomplish successfully for their program of study to be considered complete.” He also calls for, repeatedly, a connection of secondary school learning to “real-world problems.”   In Math, Sciences, and Social Sciences, Conley says, teachers should relate student learning to the real-world, a constant theme of this blog.

The Manual Section
  • The Alignment and Challenge Audit is an online tool Conley has provided to allow schools to submit course outlines, syllabi, student work, and other materials and actually have college professors “audit” the materials and give guidance on how to better shape secondary coursework to college preparation.
  • Standards:  Conley calls his 100+ page section of subject area standards “knowledge and skills,” but most of us would label them as standards.   They are comprehensive and research based, and it is hard to see how a school go wrong using them as a key foundation for evaluating the readiness of their curriculum.
  • Also provided is a Checklist for College Readiness, 33 pages long, divided into subject area, for students to use to rate themselves on their college readiness.    It can be used in a variety of ways, and this blogger’s interest in data collection leads me to wonder about using it as a graduating senior survey– ask students to complete as they finish school, and use the self-rating for guidance on curriculum development.   It could be used verbatim, or, of course, could be modified and abbreviated for individual school suitability.   Interesting..
Additional interesting quotes:
1.  “The single most important factor in determining college success is the academic challenge of the courses taken in high school.”
2.  “Writing is one of the great challenges [of college].  For someone to learn to write, that person must write a lot.  He or she must also receive feedback on the quality of the writing.
3.  “Much of the reading in college is informational texts, not literature, and students [in high school] receive little formal instruction in language arts courses on reading informational texts.”
4. “Providing students with extensive experience writing many five to ten page papers over four years is superior to having them write one twenty page paper during the senior year.”
5.  Most important is to “develop the mindset of student-as-scientist– to think like a scientist.  At the heart of this lies inquisitiveness and genuine curiosity about how the natural world is ordered.”

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