As the mother of a daughter who will be entering the 11th grade this fall in a Long Island, New York public high school, my summer months have been consumed with thoughts about these final two years and if they will truly prepare her for the transition to college.
While the testing has become more rigorous through Advanced Placement and now International Baccalaureate classes, the teaching and support to accommodate them does not receive a passing grade from me.
An important part of incorporating this rigorous coursework into the curriculum is adjusting to meet students’ needs in absorbing and understanding the information and providing them with more time on these core subjects. Integrating AP/IB courses into the classroom while incorporating the extra teaching that is necessary to ensure retention of the material is crucial to building the skills our high school students will need to succeed in college. This is an area that has fallen short based on our 10th grade experience. In our case, the teachers of these courses concentrate more on keeping up with where they should be in the curriculum versus spending time fully going over the subject matter at hand before advancing to the next chapter.
I recently discovered that the school my daughter attends is unranked in the U.S. News and World Report 2017 list of best high schools in the country, rates a 31.5% for college readiness, and was 527th on Washington Post’s America’s Most Challenging High Schools list. Shouldn’t we be doing better? Is her high school doing enough to prepare her for college?
As I weigh this information, I realize that the focus on learning the material in the more rigorous, college prep courses will be crucial for my daughter during these next two years. We will need to take extra measures to ensure that she is retaining the information and learning good test-taking strategies. This will likely need to be done above and beyond the support that is currently offered to her at school and require significant added expenses.
With so many schools being rated ahead of ours in how they are preparing students for college on Long Island alone, we will need to do much work to ensure she is at this same academic level come college application time, which is only the tip of the iceberg. The way my daughter is learning now will affect her success as a future college graduate. It is not enough for our high school to offer college-level coursework or to merely provide the opportunity for advanced courses. The teaching must also accommodate the retention needs of students.
More needs to be done in our school to facilitate learning and test-taking success for college preparation. That is the piece that is missing for us right now and the one that will be essential in helping our high school students excel in the future.
As we continue to navigate our way through the junior and senior years and get closer to crossing the finish line to college, I hope to devise the winning formula to ensure my daughter’s future academic success.