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KipEsquire

Joanne Jacobs had a post just yesterday on a related concept: "course inflation" (i.e., a high school calling a class "Honors" or "Advanced" or "AP" when it really isn't) to boost students' transcripts indirectly:

http://www.joannejacobs.com/mtarchives/016676.html

Phil

That's sad and like grade inflation, it negatively affects those students are "true" honors students.

Ironman

Having taught math in that for-profit educational sector, I can say that at least a good part of it doesn't work that way. I've mostly had students who have only previously had high school level math that has left them unprepared for the requirements at college. Many of these students have come from disadvantaged backgrounds on top of that, and as a result, require the remedial level education.

When you also consider that a majority of students in this area are working students (older than 22, have a real job and take school classes on top of that in addition to their real-life obligations), and that their employers are often footing the bill, the employers demand a real return for their money and often play a large role in the design of course curriculum to ensure that they get their money's worth from their investment. Take accreditation requirements into account and you can quickly sort the wheat from the chaff in private sector education.

As a result of these factors, a lot of effort has been put toward developing learning resources, especially for remedial level education. Where math instruction is concerned, you would be surprised to see what's out there now compared to just a few years ago (24/7 web resources with lectures, step-by-step video examples of math solutions, real-time tutoring, automated practice exercises and exams with instant feedback - and that's just for basic math and algebra!) Now, add the traditional real life instructor and the stuff you would find in a regular classroom and the stuff you can find outside that classroom (such as tutors) to the total picture.

The bottom line is that this is what it takes to make it all work. The students who take advantage of these resources do very well. The students who don't most often either don't continue or they repeat the math courses until they do.

It's a key difference between what Samuelson calls the U.S. education system and the U.S. learning system. On behalf of the U.S. learning system, we thank the U.S. education system for the opportunity....

EclectEcon

I was reminded by both King's post and yours of Lake Wobegon, where all the students are above average.

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