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Norwalk Letter: Parents Must Pay Attention To Children's Courses

NORWALK, Conn. ? The Norwalk Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. We reserve the right to edit submissions, but we respectfully ask that you keep your correspondence under 500 words. Please send letters to norwalk@dailyvoice.com .

Dear Norwalk Parents,

It may surprise you that not all high school classes will prepare your child for college. Take a look at the course selection booklets your eighth grade and/or high school students recently brought home. There is a wide variety of courses intended for all learners. However, not all classes will prepare your child for the rigors of college.

Very soon, college preparation at the high school level will be even more vital. It is documented that 80 percent of Norwalk Community College’s incoming students require remedial classes. But because of recently passed legislation effective in 2014, NCC will offer only one, instead of two, semesters of these noncredit bearing (but definitely tuition-bearing) classes. This means underprepared students will have to catch up more quickly. Even now, many remedial students do not complete the year. Starting in 2014, even more may drop out.

This can be rectified. It will take the work of the schools and parents. NCC is playing its part as well. Through a “Bridges” grant, NCC is offering early college placement tests in math and English to part of the class of 2014 (this year’s juniors). The results of these tests will be shared with students, and a recommendation will be made regarding senior math and English courses. For some students, it may be as simple as taking a fourth year of math.

It should be a college prep math class because performance in Algebra 2 is one of the best predictors for success in college. This effort requires vigilance on your part as well. It is important that you understand the courses your child chooses. For a student to be prepared for college, they need a rigorous courseload. This is the time to stretch and take an Honors or an AP class. By taking rigorous courses, the student gains confidence in their ability—and inclination—to take on greater challenges at the next level. Academic rigor in itself is meaningless if it is not met with commensurate performance. "Good enough" won't cut it.

As parents, we need to guide our children to make the best choices possible. Choosing the right high school courses makes a difference later. Preparing for college, in high school, can mean money saved down the road. At the very least, it means the student can take credit-bearing classes immediately. At the very most, it can mean college scholarships. Encourage your child to “pay now” by applying themselves, so you don’t “pay later.”

Gloria Tenofsky

Executive Director

Norwalk Education Foundation

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