We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
1. Taking more "academic" classes correlates with improved scores. It's true, except where it doesn't.
2. Vocational ed classes don't help with improved scores. If the students taking the "academic" classes took "vocational" classes, would they do worse? You do a lot of trig and other math in shop class. And when the pieces to a project don't fit, well that's a harsh lesson indeed.
3. Ignoring the prep work prior to HS. It's possible that academic success is laid in the groundwork of elementary school.
4. This statement, "In short, the high school curriculum, far from narrowing, is getting deeper and broader," doesn't follow necessarily from the results.
5. "But perhaps most disturbing is that high schools are failing to exploit emerging opportunities for students to increase their course-taking. Many critics argue that our school year and school day are too short—and clearly the evidence from the transcript study shows that exposure to more courses is associated with higher NAEP scores. The transcript study explores two ways in which students could take more courses: summer school and online education. " Here the author assumes that academic performance will continue to increase monotnoically w/ classroom time on subject. It ignores other possibilities like diminishing returns, that good students use other methods to improve themselves, and these would simply be replaced by more classwork, or that a break from formal classwork may actually be beneficial.
6. "Even more serious is our failure to take advantage of online education. Our ability to deliver high quality online math courses is far more advanced than in other subjects. Yet only 5 percent or so of students took online math courses—and they scored lower on their NAEP tests than students who did not take such courses. This suggests that like summer school, online education is more for credit recovery than for learning and perfecting advanced skills"
Another assumption. Here the author ignores the contribution of teachers and peers to advance learning. Particularly in a class like math, where opportunity for Q/A and insights from others can be valuable to understanding a concept.
Claiming that an increase in credits earned by students now versus students in the past is only meaningful if "one credit" defines an objective and measurable quantity of work.
My kids' high school increased the number of credits required for graduation, and simultaneously shortened the period of time required (i.e., 50 minutes per day versus one hour) for a class to be worth that one credit. Voila! The kids are now taking more credits than they used to!
(But, mysteriously, they're spending fewer hours per week doing so.)
When a student in the advanced classes finds out that they can no longer fit music or vocational classes into their schedule, they are generally forced out of them. This limits the student's ability to experience variety in their educational experience and narrows the focus to what the state and federal goernment have decided is most important for them, doing well on standardized tests, which are probably a good indicator of the students probability of succeeding at a four year university, but I think are a very poor indicator of the childs probability at succeeding in life. Unless you assume graduating from a university automatically marks you as successful.
I'd add the point that delivering instruction from a curriculum aimed at the appropriate level is what it's all about. Would it do any good to toss college coursework at a 3rd grader? Why not? It's more advanced, right?
....and this is quite the assumption: "This leads me to question the quality of the curriculum as delivered in schools serving minority students. I suspect that many schools are likely relabeling courses and not delivering the course content implied by the course titles."
Again, curriculum is the magic powder. Just sprinkle it on them and wa la, there's achievement.