Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

On Rubrics and Broken Windows

Bruce Brasington

Bruce Brasington discusses the effects of the AP European History examination.

The “Cultural Revolution” Comes to American Academia

Old Communist language and tactics are infiltrating American higher education, aided by our historical amnesia.

Re-re-re-revising American History

Peter Wood

NAS president Peter Wood evaluates APUSH 2.0 and considers the possibility of greater improvements. 

Multiple Choice Math: A Mismatch of Standards

Tessa Carter

Wrinkles in the transition from high school to college come in several shades.

Advice for a Young Scholar

George Leef

“Accelerated Learning”: Bullet Train to Success or Oxymoron?

David Clemens

Why are colleges so deeply invested in doing what is clearly not college?

They're Not Unteachable

Glenn Ricketts

It's more difficult, but certainly not impossible, to teach today's college students.

On Cashiers and College Degrees

Jason Fertig

A New York Times article doesn't convince Jason Fertig that nearly everyone needs to go to college.

Disadvantaged Students

Will Fitzhugh

The truly disadvantaged are those who have not been sufficiently taught how to read and write and graduate from high school unprepared for college.

Do Good Professors Give F's?

Jason Fertig

When C means degree, professors should pass only students who meet course standards, counsels Jason Fertig.

Mission: Preparation

Peter Cohee

Activism-as-learning begins before college, through the influence on schools of groups such as Facing History and the Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation. What are we preparing students for?

AP Tests Don't Always Benefit High School Students

Ashley Thorne

According to the San Jose Mercury News, having students take Advanced Placement tests when they aren't adequately prepared for them can cause them to miss the basics of high school education.

Common Core Standards Miss the Mark

Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky believes new standards for grades 6-12 English are too low and don't equip students to be "college- and career-ready.

Running in Place

Peter Wood

Candace de Russy on Phi Beta Cons links a website picture of a test about the Constitution given in 1954 in which an 8th grader, Kenny Hignite, scored 98½ percent by listing all the cabinet positions and the people holding them, all the justices of the Supreme Court, the substance of the first 22 amendments, and more. It is a feat few eighth graders could perform today—or for that matter, few adults, and certainly few college students. The thinness of substantive knowledge among today’s students is often remarked in a general way. But there actually is a systematic study comparing the general knowledge of high school grads from Kenny Hignite’s era with today’s college grads. In December 2002, the NAS published a survey, "Today's College Students and Yesteryear's High School Grads: A Comparison of General Cultural Knowledge." We did this by commissioning Zogby International to poll a sample of 2002 college seniors with 15 questions regarding "cultural knowledge" that had originally been administered to similar groups of high school seniors in 1955. These included knowledge of canonical authors, geographical knowledge or watershed historical events. The results were not reassuring. 61% of high school seniors polled in 1955 knew that Madrid was the capital of Spain; 63% of college seniors in 2002 also knew. At the same time, 67% of those responding in 1955 knew that Maine bordered Canada, while only 50% of 2002 college seniors answered correctly. Overall, we found that the two groups - high school seniors of 1955 and college seniors of 2002 - were approximately equivalent in their general cultural and historical knowledge. We could be pleased, I suppose, that absolute decline hasn’t set in. But we should also keep in mind that 1955 was before Sputnik, and the first great national effort to raise academic standards to keep up with the Soviets. And it was before the 1965 Higher Education Act began the immense federally-funded expansion of higher education. All those billions spent improving our schools and colleges may have done something, but they don’t appear to have improved American’s cultural knowledge. What we have instead is college seniors who perform at the level of 1950s high school students.

The Battle of Bunker Hill, Round II: Why Doubling the Size of American Higher Education is a Bad Idea

Peter Wood

There is a move afoot to use economic bailout money to enroll ill-prepared students in numbers that would overwhelm our system. It rightly deserves the criticism we give it.

Sheep in Wolve's Clothing: A Business-as-Usual Group Tries on the Rhetoric of School Reform

Peter Wood

One education organization seeks to solve an unnamed crisis by paying teachers more and sending more students to college.