The Opportunity Myth Is Jeopardizing Our Students

A study conducted by The New Teacher Project (TNTP) gathered about 30,000 real student surveys, and it found that 94% of students want to attend college and 70% of students have a career ambition that requires at least a college degree.  

It’s apparent that many students want to go to college. They have the mentality that if they do everything they are supposed to do in school, they will be prepared for college. This sounds great and doable. There’s just one problem.

It’s a Myth!

This is what is referred to as the Opportunity Myth, our schools are not preparing our children for college. Yet our children believe what they have always been told, that school is preparing them for college and that they are on the right path to achieving their goals if they do what their teachers tell them to do, go to school every day, do the work, and stay engaged.  

Yet many students who are doing exactly that, are finding out that they are not prepared for college.

Remedial Courses

If you’ve ever had to take a remedial class before taking a college level course, you are not alone. Per the study, 40 percent of college students (including 66 percent of Black college students and 53 percent of Latinx college students) take at least one remedial course. And those who do are 74 percent more likely to drop out.

Schools Need To Do a Better Job of Preparing You for College

Remedial courses focus on material that you should have mastered in school for free. So why are so many of the students who graduate from high school, many of whom took AP classes, received As and Bs, and have been dedicated to their education, in need of remedial classes in college?

It’s because so many of our schools are not giving our children the opportunity to work up to their potential. The assignments that our students are receiving are below grade level and not challenging enough. Many of them do not meet grade level standards, yet they graduate and move onto college.

And while graduation enrollment rates are up, fewer students are graduating from college. Our students are not prepared.

Why Aren’t Kids Being Prepared for College?

According to the study, students spend most of their time in school without access to four key resources: grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement, and teachers who hold high expectations.

Grade-appropriate assignments. Students are not receiving grade appropriate work. In fact, they are sometimes working on assignments that are two to three grade levels below their own. If you think this is a waste of time, you’re right! Students are wasting countless hours on material that doesn’t challenge them or prepare them for the next level.

Strong instruction. Classes are lacking teachers who allow the students to engage, think, problem solve, and lead discussions. There are not enough teachers who are giving their students grade appropriate assignments and challenging them to be a big part of the lesson and to share their thoughts.

Deep engagement. Students must be engaged in the lessons, meaning they have to be interested and find them relevant. Often they aren’t engaged because they’re bored by assignments that don’t ask enough of them, they aren’t challenged enough to be fully focused.

Teachers who hold high expectations. According to the study, 93 percent of students think it is important to their teachers that they learn a lot. While another study showed, 82 percent of teachers were supportive of state level standards in theory, but just 44 percent of teachers believed their own students could meet such high demands. This is sad. As parents we believe that our children are obtaining the necessary skills in school to be successful in college and we believe in our children’s ability to learn these skills 100%. All teachers need to be on board and hold our children to higher standards.  

What Can We Do?

Currently, 71 percent of students meet their assignments, but only 17 percent meet those same exact assignments at grade level standards, something has to change.

We can begin the wave of change by providing the four key resources we touched on:

  • grade-appropriate assignments
  • strong instruction
  • deep engagement
  • teachers who hold high expectations.

The study was able to provide evidence that even when students are facing outside barriers, if these four key elements are practiced inside the classroom, students can have a better outcome in school.

Providing these four resources would provide a better and more challenging academic experience for students. And this would allow students the opportunity to set a higher bar for themselves. A bar every parent knows their child can achieve with hard work.

What do you think?

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Monica Luna Gonzalez

Monica Luna Gonzalez

Monica Luna Gonzalez is a certified Life Coach who works with parents by helping them learn to utilize their amazing parenting skills. She began this line of work after working solely with children for over two years and learning of a disconnect between a lot of the child-parent relationships. She is a mom of two children. Her oldest is a freshman in college and her youngest is shopping for preschools. She was a teen mom who graduated from Bell High School, despite the challenges that came from being a teen mom. She wishes she would have been prepared for college right after high school, which is why she wants to help others improve their children's chances for a better education. She is a non-traditional college student as she returned to college 18 years after graduating from high school.

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