This is a list of remediation rates for Dallas-area students that enroll at junior colleges. If you’re not in the Dallas area, just Google up your district name and the keywords “college remediation.”
Now a word on the statistics: you can also see the number of students per graduating class that went to junior college. The percentage of remedial students is a percentage of that number, not the total graduating class.
So why would a student need remediation if he or she was able to graduate high school? Is this evidence of the existence of social promotion, which was supposed to be wiped out with the testing regime imposed waaaaay back in 1990-91? As it turns out, the NCLB act has given it new life.
If a school is going to be considered unacceptable, unclean, and untouchable with a too-high dropout rate, no school administrator is going to want to have a student drop out. Students that fail courses drop out, so the pressure is on to get these guys to pass and graduate. What they do after graduation is not an overriding concern of the school district, at least not enough to take on the real overriding concern to keep from being rated non-performing because of a bunch of kids that, for whatever reasons justified or otherwise, do not perform well at their campuses.
I’m against the idea of schools arbitrarily kicking out students or using expulsion to target unpopular minorities, but I’m equally against the idea of the Vietnamization of schools, where statistics are the end-all and can be tweaked to hide the fact that the actual mission is not being accomplished.
And, the fact is, for all the efforts made at so-called reform, which is actually a bunch of micromanagement and statistical fudgery from above, we still see that nearly all the schools in the Dallas area – and they’re by no means alone – still graduate students that need to be taught what they were supposed to have been taught.
Is it the fault of the teachers? The parents? The administration? The society in which we live? The students themselves? Yes. But the key to success in the schools is not to be punitive. The best program I have ever taught in has been in my own church’s education system. There, the emphasis was on having the right spirit, the right attitude about education. There, we invited the students in. If they did not attend, that was a matter for a case-by-case assessment, not a blanket ruling. We invited the students to participate in the lessons and to find their own value in what we taught. For those who chose to be there, many had a fantastic experience that affected their lives for the better.
I was a student myself in that program when I was in high school, and I don’t remember specific lessons, but I do remember the spirit of that classroom. I remember the teacher’s love and dedication to us, her students, and how that love helped us to enjoy what we were learning. I then think over to my other great teachers in the schools I attended, and it’s the same with them. I don’t recall specific lessons, but I do remember that attention, that love, that dedication, that care for each of us as individuals, rather than as an aggregate of data for accountability reports.
That’s what made my schooling great: the teachers on the front lines that taught with love, often in spite of what their administrators were doing to them. As a teacher, I know I’ve brought that same love and dedication and, yes, I have taught in places where it was in spite of what the administration, state regulations, or NCLB did to me.
I see the numbers for my high school on the list and I have to think that maybe, just maybe, the solution in dealing with the remediation problem might just be in junking the government-mandated high-stakes tests and other punitive metrics and instead dealing with each student as an individual – and realizing that, in a free country, some individuals will simply choose to not participate with the others. They will be left behind. It is sad, but we have to move on.