Kenneth Bernstein just retired from a career as a high school teacher in suburban Washington, DC, and he has a stark message for college professors: the students entering your classes this year will be less prepared than ever. He points to two culprits, both related to increased testing:
–More and more students are taking AP tests, and more and more teachers are learning that they have a strong incentive to teach to the test.
–This will be the first year in which college students have experienced the full effect of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, since those programs begin testing in third grade. Students who were in third grade in the early 2000s when the program began are just entering college now.
The result in both cases is students are simply not ready for the work college classes will expect of them.
Bernstein’s article serves as a warning to professors, and a preemptive defense of his own colleagues. Don’t blame high school teachers, he says—the new standard of constant testing and empiricism leaves them no choice.