Mark Twain told a story about going to heaven, where he asked to meet the greatest writer of all time. He considered who he might meet and was introduced to a farmer who had never written or published anything.

how can that be? Because in heaven, the biggest definition is what will happen if the situation is different.

I am very fortunate to have many outstanding students. As an assistant professor at Yale University, I taught an undergraduate who won a Pulitzer Prize after three years in my department. I knew at the time that he was destined to do great things, and my job was to get out of the way.

I also have many graduates of elite boarding schools, they have extraordinary language skills and language skills.

But many of the best students I have taught are rough diamonds, and their life experiences and talents enable them to read the text and draw conclusions in a completely original way. These rough diamonds have certain characteristics in common: not polish or self-confidence or incredible language skills, but determination, passion, participation and imagination.

Therefore, my duty is to actually teach: not just to convey information, but to improve their skills and provide feedback as much as I can, so that they can reach their potential.

If you truly believe that talent is universal, but opportunities are not, then as a lecturer, your first task is to help students realize their promises.

Inequality exists in all aspects of higher education. In terms of each student’s expenditure on teaching and support, cost after financial assistance, retention and graduation rates, and opportunities to enter high-demand majors, American colleges and universities are among the most hierarchical institutions in the United States.

If our institution is to go beyond virtual signals, symbolic gestures, and noble, well-meaning but ultimately untenable statements about fairness, we need to face a basic fact: higher education currently constitutes, just like Alexandra Lowe Alexandra Logue, the former Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs of the City University of New York, explained to me a textbook example of systemic racism.

  • Black and Latino students are concentrated in institutions with the least choice and resources, usually in community colleges with low graduation and transfer rates, and are clearly underrepresented in flagship campuses.
  • These students are particularly likely to attend for-profit and online institutions, which have extremely low retention rates and extremely high debt burdens.
  • Community college students seeking to transfer to a 4-year university will encounter a series of policies and practices that limit their chances of graduation, including delays in assessing transfer credits, refusing to allow credits earned at community colleges to meet genetic or professional requirements, closed courses, and limited Financial aid.

But of all the obstacles to student success, perhaps the most important is the requirement that students deemed unprepared to enter university must attend one or more cram schools-this is often a black hole, and few people can successfully exit.

We must ask ourselves: Are these enrolled students really not ready to go to university? Or, with proper support, can they succeed in their credit ratings?

The current evidence is clear: traditional remedies usually do not work, but coexisting remedies (allowing students to participate in standard classes with support) do.

The explanation is simple and clear. Many students attending tutorial classes have specific areas in which they need help, but the challenges they face do not require them to start over. Allowing these students to participate in non-credit tuition classes will not only hinder their motivation to learn, but also weaken their enthusiasm, making many people deeply discouraged.

Like the devil, prejudice takes many forms, the most insidious of which is the tendency to mark a large proportion of low-income students as flawed and assert that their flaws need to be corrected in order to enter the enrolled course.

However, you might answer, haven’t we all read about the fact that a large number of freshmen are not ready for college?

This does not mean that these high school graduates lack motivation or lack a sense of direction or a clear understanding of the value of the university. Instead, we are told that these students actually lack the basic math, reading, and writing skills needed for university success.

We heard that they are not only poor financially; they are also poor in language and mathematics.

According to ACTThe test company, in 2019, the percentage of students meeting the English and Mathematics benchmarks was the lowest in 15 years, with only 37% reaching three of the four university preparation benchmarks, and 36% not reaching any of them.

If this is the case, it is not surprising that about 40% of first-time full-time students fail to graduate from 4-year colleges and universities, and even a higher percentage of community colleges or transfer students never earn a degree.

If so, it is not the fault of higher education for failing to get more students to graduate. The high school or the students themselves or their families should be blamed.

However, such a large proportion of college students really lack the basic skills needed to achieve academic success-at least, should they be required to take tuition courses to keep them up?

The answer is no. “What we are learning is:

1. Traditional methods of assessing university readiness have been compromised by inaccuracy, and many students who are fully capable of completing university-level work are downgraded to tuition courses.

2. With appropriate support, more students are ready to complete standard credit courses.

An initiative organized by the National Education Equity Laboratory The Harvard course “American Poetry” enrolled more than 300 11th and 12th grade students from high poverty high schools in 11 cities. All in all, 89% of students passed the course and received four credits from the Harvard School of Extension.

They are the key to student success: challenge them, build their confidence, and provide the timely support they need.

So what can we learn from these facts?

What we face in this society is a lack of opportunities.
The preparation gap is actually the opportunity gap. At the K-12 level, structural barriers to equality include unfair funding levels, uneven distribution of quality teachers, differences in teachers’ perceptions of student abilities, and access to advanced courses, rich activities outside the school, and opportunities for talent and talent Gap, advanced placement and early college courses.

In addition to these factors, we should also concentrate too many low-income and non-white students in highly segregated and highly impoverished schools, which in turn has led to profound differences in school culture, campus climate, and learning environment—and learning The difference in opportunity.

Traditional remedies are not the answer.
Remedial courses are far from the best way to help students Students with weak or uneven academic backgrounds achieve university success. As Professor Loge pointed outCurrently, two-thirds of community college freshmen and 40% of public 4-year college freshmen take at least one tuition course—but most never complete it.

So what should we do?

Realize that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The gap in university preparation is real, but it can be corrected. Summer bridge courses, supplementary instructional sections, peer-to-peer tutoring, peer-led study groups, and math, science, and writing learning centers can make a big difference.

Redesigning the course path can enable more students to succeed.
Our institution needs to pay close attention to whether degree pathways, especially degree programs in STEM fields, are designed in a way that favors students with special high school backgrounds, and favors students who need some time to develop basic math or writing skills.

We can reorganize the course content and sequence to give students more opportunities to acquire the required skills.

Although educational inequality may be a product of prejudice, prejudice, racism, and malice, it is usually a product of policies and practices, at least on the surface, it seems fair and well-meaning.

Traditional remedies are one of the obstacles to success.

If we take fairness seriously, let us keep two principles in mind:

  • If our institution accepts students, we are personally responsible for doing our best to help that student succeed.
  • As teachers, we have a professional obligation to do our best to help our students develop their God-given skills and abilities.

Steven Mintz is a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin


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