and Sciences reaches out to teachers
College of Arts and Sciences recently hosted a session to bring
high school math and English teachers together with their UNM
Martin, associate professor of English and associate dean of
the College of Arts and Sciences, and Doug Earick, coordinator
of K-12 outreach for the college, organized the session in response
to the growing number of students who enter UNM unprepared for
college level work.
year, more than 30 percent of the incoming freshmen have academic
deficiencies, said Martin, adding that math is the real
80 teachers and administrators attended.
We are not holding the meeting to lay blame, but rather
to share information. We need to develop a better understanding
of the high school English and math curricula and state standards.
We need to compare what students are expected to know by the
end of the senior year to our expectations after one semester
at UNM, said Martin.
institutional research with each school that participated.
a pre-college level course, has 1,400 students in it this semester.
45 to 50 percent of those students will fail this course this
semester, said Martin.
a former Albuquerque High School teacher, is concerned that
students aspirations exceed what theyre prepared
to do. Students who want to pursue careers in science
or engineering find that they are supposed to take Math 162,
calculus, their first semester. What were discovering
is that many students need three or four semesters of preparatory
math to get into the program, he said.
math teachers voiced their concern about Algebra II being recognized
as the only class that prepares students for Math 120, while
others pointed out that Algebra II was critical for incoming
freshmen. Another course designated a killer is
Biology 121. Students have trouble because of their inability
to do algebraic problem solving, said Earick. The students
arent incapable, he said, they just need better preparation.
Of the top 15 courses on the killer course list,
seven are math and five others are science courses that depend
on mathematical competence. Earick said that one reason some
incoming freshmen have weak math skills is that they frequently
satisfy high school math requirements by junior year and dont
take math as seniors. Martin and Earick also suggest that students
math problems probably go back to middle school.
schools have the option to hire either a teacher with a K-8
certification or a secondary certification. Many of the math
teachers may not be fully qualified to teach mathematics,
points to a new three-tier teacher licensure system that will
require teachers to attain more education and experience to
move up the pay scale as a way to create faculties considered
highly qualified in their academic subjects. This
is required by 2006 by No Child Left Behind.
Department faces the same problem as math. UNM offers
100 sections [classes] of English 101. When we heard that we
were anticipating 3,000 incoming freshmen, we thought we would
have to offer more sections. As it turns out, we didnt.
But we did have to offer more remedial English courses,
said Scott Sanders, English Department chair.
study of literature and writing critical literary essays that
is often required of high school students doesnt orient
them to college level work. They need to read more non-fiction
texts and be able to ascertain the writers claim, identify
the structures within the text, said Martin.
is a disconnect between the English curriculum at UNM and the
high school curriculum. UNMs English classes stress composition
for freshmen while high school English is broader. High schools
need to make writing a priority, said Christine Beverly,
Del Norte High School English teacher.
said that the faculty in Arts and Sciences play a role in the
equation, as well. Teachers take content area courses in Arts
and Sciences. For example, a high school English teacher takes
36 hours in English to be qualified. We need to be active
in raising teachers content knowledge. Many teachers are
asked to teach outside their areas of expertise or in areas
where their knowledge is outdated, Martin said.
about 41 percent of New Mexicos teachers, and these students
receive most of their general education and content courses
from Arts and Sciences, she said. There is nothing in
it for us to blame high school teachers. Were implicated
at every stage of the game, she said.