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Jaime Frias
Composition 2
Final Draft
Are K-12 schools really preparing students, for either a college education or the
workforce after they graduate? According to data obtained from the College Board’s SAT Report
only 43% of the graduating class of 2013 met the readiness standards (2013 SAT Report on
College & Career Readiness). Which proves that there are many flaws in the education system
of the United States, schools are failing to prepare students in fields that revolve around the stem
cells and in writing skills. “College instructors are especially critical and are unsatisfied with the
job that high schools are doing in preparing students in writing and mathematics” (Peter D).
Furthermore the fact that the U.S. is in the 21
st
place in mathematics and in 12
th
place in reading
internationally is a second example that proves how internationally we are falling behind
(International Comparison of Math, Reading, and Science Skills Among 15-Year-Olds).
Something has to be done as soon as possible or students will continue to lack essential skill to
pursue a better education or will have no chance in the work force compared to others around the
world. A controversial proposition to fix this issue would be a modification in standardized
testing and a new curriculum such as Common Core is established in high schools and eventually
in have children begin in the Curriculum on their first day of school.
Well first of all what are standardized test and a Common Core Curriculum? First of all
“a Standardized test is a test that is given in a consistent or “standard” manner” (The Johnson
Center). These test are designed to make sure that all students are receiving the proper education
across the nation. The fact that there is only one test a year is an issue that must be addressed.
Critics of standardized test argue that many students do not preform as well as they should
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because of external issues and test anxiety [which is by all means true] (Derrick Meador). But it
shouldn’t be a reason to be hundredths of points off the average national score when compared
overall as a school. Standardized test “often provide some type of “standard score” which can
help interpret how far a child’s score ranges from the average” (The Johnson Center). It would
be very simple to solve the issue critics are addressing. In California for example the CST’s
(California Standardized Test) are given once a year to students from second grade to junior
year. Critics argue that a single test doesn’t show how smart a student really is. If there was one
simple modification to Standardized test then there would be no reason to argue. That
modification would revolve around the once a year test. Instead of testing students once a year in
one big test it would be better to test them three times a year with smaller examinations. This
way students could show improvement as the year went on. The final examination would show
whether or not a students in a class has actually learned the required standards and if the majority
of the class didn’t then teachers would be at fault. More specifically instead of placing all the
pressure on one test it would be over three examinations. The test would be focused on
improvement and not solely on how much a student knows. If for a particular reason a majority
of students in a school didn’t learn or if the average scores were too low then the state would be
allowed to implement a government mandate curriculum. Which is basically a system as the one
I have described above in which more testing occurs throughout the year. The Common Core
curriculum is designed to test students more often and set a common curriculum for schools all
over the nation. “These exams [will measure] student progress [and will] merely replace current
year-end standardized tests [to ensure that each school and teacher are doing what they need to
do to ensure that students are keeping up with state standards.]”(Common Core Myths and
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Facts). But would a new curriculum make a difference among kids and instructors or would it
just be a waste of time and money?
There are a lot of concerns with a new common core curriculum in school. However,
something must be done as soon as possible or students will continue going to college
unprepared. The truth is that we wont know if the new curriculum will work unless a major
percentage of schools use it. It’s a shame that only in the current curriculum “only 18% of
college professors feel that most of their students come to college extremely or very well
prepared [compared to] with just 3% saying extremely well [and 56% describe their students as
somewhat well prepared]” (Peter D. Hart). Students do not know what college is like and for that
reason they do not take more rigorous and challenging courses in high school. But even then AP
classes do not compare to college rigor as many teachers argue they do. Many students realize
that even though they graduated at the top of their class they are no competition against students
from China with more difficult and challenging curriculums. “If high schools raised standards,
graduates say they would be able to meet them. Four in five college students (82%) and non-
students (80%) say that that they would have worked harder if their high schools had demanded
more of students, set higher academic standards, and raised expectations of how much course
work and studying would be necessary to earn a diploma”(Peter D. Hart). This is by all means
true, if I would of known that college was so difficult I would of taken a lot of more classes that
revolved around my major. Both college instructors and employers agree that a harder
curriculum and an exit exam would prepare students more by forcing the school to challenge
them more. (Peter D. Hart) Not only would this solve issues in the workforce but it would also
prepare students so they wouldn’t have to take remedial courses in college.
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Why would a college and universities even offer remedial courses? Shouldn’t students be
college prep and ready to start their major’s classes, isn’t that what high school is for? As
controversial as remedial courses are they are needed in college to help students adequately
transition and learn the needed material, or are they? “Some commentators view the existence of
remedial or developmental courses as evidence that many of today’s college students are not
academically strong enough and should not have been admitted into college in the first place”
(Paul Attewell, David Lavin, Thurston Domina, Tania Levey). If this were the case, if college
students who needed to take remedial courses were not allowed to go to college then a majority
of students wouldn’t be able to enroll. Studies indicate that about 40% of traditional
undergraduates take at least one remedial class. (Woodham, F.) Colleges would lose 40% of their
students if they didn’t allow them into the school just because they had to take a remedial class.
But it is a significant piece evidence that shows how high schools and the current curriculum is
failing to prepare students for college courses. Why do students need to take remedial classes,
isn’t that the purpose of high school? The money and time spent in these is so much and useless.
“Research shows that students who skip their remedial assignments do just as well in gateway
courses as those who took remediation first” (Remidation Higher Education’s Bridge to
Nowhere). Furthermore studies reveal that a major percentage of students taking remedial classes
are students of color, students from less affluent families, and students whom English is a second
language (Paul Attewell, David Lavin, Thurston Domina, Tania Levey).
There is a significant difference when it comes to the education received in one
community compared to another one a couple miles down the road. The fact that a major portion
of students in remedial classes are African American and Latino students from low-income
communities is another major component why the common core curriculum should be accepted.
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Not only would the common core curriculum assure that a school located in an area struck by
poverty teaching the same material it would also prepare the students in these schools as others
in top schools. In the long run, for example in college this would make a huge difference.
Current studies show that students in low-income communities have a lower chance to pass AP
test than students in non low-income communities. (Comp 1) Many parents do not realize that
their children could be receiving a better education if they choose to take them to a school down
the road in a community that is not as affected by poverty. This is unjust and unfair when it
comes to job opportunities and university applications. When it comes to competition for jobs
the students who graduated from the “better school” would be preferred over the other students.
In a survey preformed “90% of 2010 high school graduates say the requirements for graduating
high school, including required tests and courses, were “easy” (College Board). Why would a
college freshmen wish that their high school required them to do more work in and challenged
them more? The most common answer would be that they are struggling and in cases not even
passing their classes. Many of these students go into college and end up getting C’s for the first
time even thought they were straight A students in high school and didn’t party at all. Who is at
fault; not the students of course but the system that failed to prepare them for the real world, but
more specifically the school from which they graduated is at fault.
If a school had a more rigorous curriculum then students would not need to take remedial
courses and would be prepared to begin classes needed to graduate. A major percentage of the
students are not academically prepared even though they took various AP classes during high
school (Roldens Paulynice) “The Advanced Placement (AP) program provides an opportunity
for students to take college level courses in high school…It is strongly encouraged that students
take the exam” (Monroe Public Schools). High schools encourage students to take these courses
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but what they don’t tell them is that less than half of them have chances to pass the examination
in low-income neighborhoods (Comp 1). “AP courses are not, in fact, remotely equivalent to the
college-level course they are said to approximate.” (John Tierney) This statement can easily be
proven just asking anyone who came from a low-income neighborhood. I myself know for a fact
that AP classes are at all equivalent to college courses. This is a reality that many incoming
freshmen are going to face after their first quarter. A major percentage of them are going to
realize that all the AP classes they took in high school do not come close to the classes offered
here in UCI. There some exception, some high schools do in fact prepare their students for
college but the majority of the time 64% according to College Board are not prepared. Well then
why are AP courses so popular? Well who wouldn’t want to take “college courses” and receive
credits for free, I know for a fact that I do plus it helps out GPA. “Despite the rapid growing
enrollment in AP courses, large percentages of minority students are essentially left out of the
AP game … [and] they are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to college admissions”
(John Tierney). Not only would the percentage of minority students passing AP test increase
because they would be required to learn the same material as another student in a more affluent
school if Common Core was adopted but competition would decrease for the same reason.
As great as Common Core sounds there are some issues with the curriculum that must be
acknowledged. First off all “ it will take time for both students and teachers to adjust to the new
Common Core State Standards and the transition will be difficult.” Furthermore “the new system
will require tools, technology and textbooks that are aligned with the standards, thus making
many current materials obsolete, which will be expensive to fix” (Parents for Public Schools,
Inc.). This a good issue that must be addressed, to begin with critics do not realize that schools
that change their curriculum or intended to do so qualify for more grants and government aid.
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The program known as Race to the Top and one of the key qualifications for this program is to
switch the Common Core Curriculum. I bring this issue up because just last yeah 2013/2014 my
high school was a finalist for the Race to the Top winning 10 million dollars in grants and now
for the following school year of 2014/2015 will transition to a Common Core Curriculum under
a the Performance Based System. “The Performance Based System [will] addresses the
implementation of common core through the use of an electronic assessment system, cross
curricular unit development, application level tasks and development of widespread, purposeful
technology” (High School Transition to Common Core in the Performance Based System). So
there is no way critics can argue that it is expensive to fix when schools are offered so much
money to change. But even then are students prepared as well as others in bigger cities even if
their schools don’t offer half of the AP classes or honors classes or labs needed for chemistry,
biology and physics majors. If Common Core is going to give out federal grants to these schools
then they must assure that the school is meeting all standards and have all of the possible
resources as others in across the nation. School such as these should have a lot more resources
than other schools since they are receiving a lot more funding than other schools. Even then
many teachers are reluctant to accept a new curriculum for many reasons. One of the most
common is that the Common Core curriculum will take time to adjust and it will place a lot of
pressure on them and make them accountable for students that do not care and lack the
motivation to try in school.
There are various approaches when it comes to education. The regulation and curriculum
at each school is different. Schools situated in wealthy neighborhoods have entirely different
perspectives on what good education should look like. In most of the cases the teachers at these
schools teach with enthusiasm, heart, and dedication. Shouldn’t all teachers have the same
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mentality when it comes to teaching? They hold so much power and influence in the lives of
students. The reality is that not all care. A video showing this was filmed and posted on
YouTube, which went viral in a matter of days. Jeff Bliss, an 18-year-old Duncanville High
School student, spoke up to his teacher addressing her teaching methods. What he states in this
video is all true: Many teachers go into class and expect their students to learn off of packets and
books.” This is a “self learning” method that many instructors apply in their classes and believe
it will help their students learn in the future. This method of teaching as addressed, by Jeff Bliss,
does not work. Many students need the enthusiasm and motivation to learn. There are many great
public teachers out in the world and only a few like the one seen in the video. "If you would just
get up and teach them instead of handing " don’t learn like that… you need to make them
excited… [we are the future of] this is the future of this nation." There are teachers in public
schools that do not care about or try to motivate students to learn. They simply hand them
packets like Jeff states, a teaching method that does not work. As stated in a research
“Comparing the Effectiveness of Classroom and Online Learning: Teaching Research Methods”
students learn best throughout “conversation, discourse, discussion, and debate among
students…[it was proven that] two of the online classes have a higher failure [rate] as compared
to face-to-face classes.” Which can be compared to packets and quizzes in many public schools.
This research statistically proves why so many students do not learn. They lack motivation and
the interaction with their teachers a concept that is not enforced to the fullest in many public
schools under the current curriculum. In the Common Core curriculum teachers receive special
training “because the curriculum expects all children to achieve much more rigorous standards,
teachers will also need extensive knowledge and training in how children learn … in effective
instructional strategies” (The Common Core State Standards and Teacher Preparation). All in
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the use of packets will not be allowed, students across the country will be learning in similar way
according to their needs ensuring that one students is as prepared as another in a different state.
The percentage of students failing AP courses is overwhelming and should not be happening in
schools. Ultimately showing that the current curriculum is not preparing students for college
level exams, as College Board stated that only 43% of graduating students were ready for college
level classes. The establishment of Common Core curriculum would assure that students are the
same material all across the country and even at an international level. It would ensure that all
teachers are preparing their students for college as they should have been doing from the
beginning by ensuring that students are keeping up to pace with what they are expected to know
at a specific grade level with the use of standardized testing over the course of a school year.


























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Work Cited

"Association of Public and Land Grants Universities." The Common Core Standards and
Teacher Preparation. N.p., n.d. Web.

Golod, Amy. "Common Core Myths and Facts." US News. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web.
06 Aug. 2014.

"International Comparison of Math, Reading and Science." Infoplease. Infoplease, n.d. Web. 05
Aug. 2014.


Meador, Derrick. "What You Need to Know About Standardized Testing." About.com Teaching.
N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2014.


"Pros and Cons of Public School Exit Exams | PublicSchoolReview.com." Public School Review.
N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2014.

Pros and Cons of Common Core (n.d.): n. pag. Web. July-Aug. 2014.

Paulynice, Lynice. "What Causes Many College Students to Fail or Drop Out?" N.p., n.d. Web.

Sheehy, Kelsey. "High Students Not Prepared for College, Career." US News. U.S.News &
World Report, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2014.

Tierney, John. "AP Classes Are a Scam." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 13 Oct. 2012.
Web. 07 Aug. 2014.

"The Future Ready Project." What Students & Graduates Are Saying About College and Career
Readiness (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 01 Aug. 2014.

US News. U.S.News & World Report, n.d. Web. 07 Aug. 2014.

"What Is a Standardized Test?" The Johnson Center for Child Care and Development (n.d.): n.
pag. Web.

Woodham, F. (1998, December 1). Report says remedial classes are cost effective.
Chronicle of Higher Education, A54.