Rona Wilensky, a long-time Colorado educator, weighs in again with her dissenting view on the governor’s CAP4K plan, which now exists as a leaving, breathing bill: Here’s Rona’s take:
The new version of CAP4K is clearer than the last one, eliminating the conflated focus on both academic and 21st century skills (by opting to focus primarily on academic skills and only including 21st century skills to the extent “practicable”), further lengthening the time lines for the development of new standards, clarifying the relationship between standards and “post secondary and workforce readiness”, as well as the relationship between this initiative and the Graduation Guidelines Development Council.
This clarity, however, only further highlights the unchanging core premises of the bill:
- That there is little variation in the level of academic preparedness that a student must achieve in order to succeed after high school, regardless of the student’s aspirations.
- That “post secondary and workforce readiness includes a demonstration of a sufficiently high level of comprehension or skill to successfully complete, without need for remediation, the core academic courses identified by the (Colorado) commission (on higher education).”
- That the “adopted assessment or assessments to measure students’ post secondary readiness my include, but need not be limited to:
- a standardized, curriculum-based, achievement, college entrance examination (e.g. ACT); and
- the basic skills placement or assessment test administered by institutions of higher education in
Colorado” (e.g. Accuplacer).
In short, the bill equates post secondary and workforce readiness with college readiness, no matter what else it says.
As I have said in earlier comments, when we raise the bar without increasing supports, we set students up for more failure; when we raise the wrong bar, we compound the error by wasting time and misdirecting resources.
If this were just another bureaucratic exercise it wouldn’t matter. But when real live students will be disenfranchised by the hyper-academic focus of the post secondary and workforce readiness program; when living, breathing adolescents will be denied the endorsement that the state sets up as the sine qua non of school success; and when educators are spending their precious time rewriting standards instead of teaching children, the human costs of this misguided public policy become more apparent.
I hope that a wider discussion of this bill will bring both more reality and more compassion to whatever formulation eventually becomes law.
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