Today, The Washington Post is reporting that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will be revamping its “Seven Keys to College Readiness.”
The county’s “keys” were produced as achievement goals that would prepare a student for college. The keys were developed by studying the profiles of students who enter college and successfully earn a degree. However, the glossy brochures devoted to promoting the “keys” do not clearly enunciate the fact that they do not represent the only path to college success. Furthermore, there is no scientific evidence that has been produced to demonstrate that specific achievements, at a specific time, are a necessary ingredient for college success.
Research has shown that parents and family play a key role in a student’s academic success. Additionally, MCPS Superintendent Joshua Starr has introduced mindset, motivation, curiosity, persistence, and grit into the conversation about success in academics.
In many ways the largest school system in Maryland has been behind times. For example, freshmen in the well-known Montgomery Blair High School Magnet Program learn programming on the venerable TI 84 Plus calculator. While it is unclear if the purpose of the exercise is to teaching programming basics, or expose students to the fact that devices may have their own programming language, it can be better accomplished via developing applications for smart phones, etc.
Google introduced the Google App Inventor that lets anyone create Android smartphone apps. Apple maintains an iOS Dev Center that provides resources for application developers. Programming smartphones such as the iPhone or Android are not only relevant in today’s information age; the resources are freely available on the internet.
Applications that run on the iPhone and iPad are extremely popular, and have been embraced by publishing giants in education. Publishing giant Pearson is also a well-known as a partner with MCPS.
Smartphone programming, is not only useful to teach any of the concepts that may be taught using a TI calculator, it can prepare the student to develop applications that can produce an income. Want to make a difference in society? Yes, you can create an app for that.
On the internet, students with motivation, persistence, and grit have the opportunity to learn the traditional coursework taught in the classroom, and some arrive well-prepared for the challenge of higher level coursework. However, there seems to be reluctance, at least among some administrators, to take into account the very factors that the Superintendent believes to be essential to success.