I’m sure you’ve heard this one before: in elementary school, a teacher says while teaching, “Pay attention! You’ll need this for middle school.” So you show up at middle school and as it turns out, they end up teaching you that same topic all over again. So
you say, “Alright. Won’t fool me again.” Then in middle school, the teachers constantly tell you, “You need to learn this now, because they’re not going to be teaching you this in high school. You’re expected to know this.” But then you show up to high school, and guess what they do? They teach you the same thing all over again! Naturally, the next step in the pattern is for teachers in high school to tell us that we need to know something that we’re just going to learn all over again in college. But is this the case? And why does this reteaching happen, anyway?
Teachers end up having to reteach students skills like grammar and note-taking because oftentimes, students don’t pick them up the first time around. Reteaching content that students are expected to know already takes time away from the content that they are actually meant to be learning that school year.
But what’s the alternative? For teachers to steamroll through topics, teaching higher-level skills when students haven’t even learned the fundamentals? Unfortunately, this problem puts students and teachers in a tough position. Either students that already know the content have to be taught it all over again, or teachers whiz through the basics and students that don’t yet know the content have to play catch-up to keep up with the class. There’s no real right answer here, and in fact, disparities between what different students know within the same grade is one of the core problems with the U.S. education system. Different schools are on different levels, and some teach students better than others.
So is high school actually preparing us for college?
When it comes to whether students are actually proficient in the skills they will need to succeed onward in life upon graduating from high school, it’s hard to say, but the prospects aren’t looking great. According to a U.S. News article pointedly entitled “High School Seniors Aren’t College-Ready,” “Only about a third of U.S. high school seniors are prepared for college-level coursework in math and reading.”
If we’re talking only about the credits and extracurriculars students need to get into college, then Clinton is making great efforts to ensure that each of us has what we need to graduate, whether we’re aiming for the IB Diploma or IB certificates. Still, the education system in general needs to work to unify the curriculums of public schools so teachers don’t need to waste time reteaching content for a few students’ benefit, and can instead teach the content necessary to succeed in college.