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College Readiness

Treating Everyone The Same Doesn't Prepare Them for College if Their Needs Are Very Different

Mike Petrilli of Fordham shines a light on the striking college readiness gaps in the district where he lives and where his son happens to be an elementary student. Though he gives credit to the Montgomery County Public Schools for its targeted efforts to chip away at the achievement gaps, he is critical of what he sees as the misguided approach of treating everyone the same despite very disparate needs.
Yet beyond these targeted investments, the MCPS strategy has been one of Deweyesque sameness. Schools throughout the County use the same curriculum and enjoy the same quality of teachers—teachers who participate in the same professional development experiences.   What’s not the same, however, are the outcomes. Yes, you are reading that right. Montgomery County is getting just 11 percent of its low-income students to the college-ready level, and fewer than one in five of its minority students. (Low-income students make up about a third of MCPS’s enrollment.) After all of the efforts of Jerry Weast and Joshua Starr. After spending hundreds of millions of extra dollars on pre-school, smaller classes, and all the rest. Eleven percent. This surely explains the heart-breaking situation at Montgomery College, the county’s enterprising and generally well-regarded community college, where almost 80 percent of students coming straight from high school must take remedial math—and where more than half of students never make it past remediation.  

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