That breeze that has begun to waft (word of the week) over children and parents arrives punctually in mid-August each year. It can be anticipated and refreshing or dreaded and ominous.
It signals the need to begin transitioning to a new routine from what was your summer schedule and preparing for the ritual of a new school season.
With the onset of a new academic year, let us offer a few prefacing points, considerations and comments.
Will digital tablets replace textbooks? Some high-school students in Clearwater, Fla., and sixth- and seventh-graders in a parochial school in Wisconsin will be provided either an Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad to start the school year.
This back-to-school season there are more e-readers to choose from. Thanks to the competition, the price is falling. A Nook, we’re told, can be had for $140 or an entry-level Kindle for $115. The number of e-reader models continues to infiltrate the market. Of course, you must add in the cost of downloading!
Currently, adult users outnumber the use by children (what child is going to stop texting to actually read?), but faced with the need to read in school, you can anticipate a sharp increase for school use.
In 2009, there were 3.7 million e-reader devices sold. The prediction for this year’s sales is 15 million, and 20 million is forecast for 2012.
Last month we decried the lack of civics and history knowledge displayed by our schoolchildren. Last week, fewer than one in three students proved proficiency in geography on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is referred to as the nation’s report card.
High-school seniors had the lowest rating with a 20 percent proficiency rating, compared to eighth-graders at 28 percent. Fourth-graders had the highest gain (so there is hope!) while seniors declined in their scores since the last assessment 10 years ago. The assessment is not just a test of maps, even though knowledge of space and place is important. It’s based also on knowledge of the environment, society and spacial connections.
This testing is not a game of Trivial Pursuit, folks! To paraphrase a relevant comment heard on a talk show discussion recently: Americans are still rich beyond most of the world’s imagination — in property and freedom and safety. But none of this is free and certainly can be subject to economic reversals, terrorism and insurrection. We cannot continue to survive and prosper if we do not know what the world is like — what it thinks, what makes it function, what it likes and dislikes and what it needs. But, more importantly, why!
Take the blinders off and see the world for what it is and care about it! It’s not all about MCAS!
The results are in from the June graduating classes. A new hurdle was imposed this past year and proved to be beyond the leap of 3,000 students (seniors). That is the tally of children who failed the new science MCAS test and thus did not graduate. Mind you, these students met all other mandates of their local high schools for a diploma.
Be reminded as well, that there are two standards of graduating from high school in the Commonwealth, one for about 150,000 private and religious school students, and the other for public schools. The former do not have to pass the MCAS.
The MCAS diploma carries no more credentials for college than those other sheepskins. MCAS is not even reported to colleges and universities.
And, finally, on another rather humorous note, but an issue that’s become rather “testy,” the following quote was contained in the College Board publication, The Official SAT Study Guide 2nd Edition: “Again, as mentioned in Chapter 1, approximately one out of every two students taking the SAT takes it at least once.” Did you read that carefully for what it says from our College Board wizzes? Doesn’t everyone who takes the test take it at least once?
The response from the College Board headquarters (the test phraseology gurus) was that it was poorly phrased.
That will serve as our quote of the week!