Several years ago, Montgomery County Public Schools established the Seven Keys to College Readiness.
The keys are not a program per se, but rather a series of benchmarks that if obtained by students ensure college readiness.To date, MCPS researchers have produced a few reports showing positive links between the benchmarks and college outcomes. This report, for example, shows a link between SAT and ACT performance (Key 7) and college success. MCPS graduates with higher scores have better college outcomes.
Here is what MCPS specifically says about Key 7:
“Scoring at least 1650 on the SAT (maximum score 2400) or 24 on the ACT (maximum score 36) college entrance exams helps students gain acceptance to the colleges of their choice. It minimizes the chance that students will have to take remedial courses in college and it also increases their chances of earning a college degree.”
And so when MCPS releases its annual SAT report, it includes in the report how high schools and student subgroups performed on Key 7.
Click here and go to page A-21 to view attainment of Key 7 for the last three MCPS graduating senior classes (classes of 2010-2012).
For the class of 2012, 53 percent attained Key 7. Other notable Key 7 attainment facts include the following:
- The high school with the highest percentage of seniors obtaining Key 7 is Walt Whitman High School—84 percent of their seniors attained Key 7. The high school with the lowest percentage of seniors obtaining Key 7 is Wheaton High School—a mere 13 percent of their seniors attained Key 7. Kennedy (18 percent) and Watkins Mill (19 percent) high schools are not that far out in front of Wheaton.
- When it comes to student subgroups, white seniors lead the way—71 percent of the white seniors attained Key 7. In contrast, a mere 19 percent of the black seniors attained Key 7. As a subgroup, black seniors attainment of Key 7 is only 4 percentage points higher than all FARMS (Free and Reduced-price Meals System) seniors—14 percent of the FARMS seniors attained Key 7. For MCPS, FARMS is used as a measure to denote low-income status.
I don’t want to be insensitive here, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the vast majority of MCPS black seniors and seniors in high schools like Wheaton, Kennedy, and Watkins Mill are graduating not ready for college.
And yet sadly, no one seems upset.
We—our school district, our Board of Education, and other elected officials—seem stuck in that twilight zone world where people “mouth” the proper words about achievement gaps and the need to eliminate them. And most talking seem genuine. (Although they do call to mind that James Brown song, “ … talking loud and saying nothing.”) And yet at the end of the day, nothing bad ever happens to the adults who fail our black and poor students.
Do we ever fire people anymore? And is anyone else sick and tired of nothing?