Why are American high school students so unprepared for college? Is it poor teacher quality, lack of pressure—too much pressure? Many people think students would be better prepared for higher education if they had better teachers. But maybe it’s not the quality of the teacher—maybe it’s the quality of the academic work itself.
Reading nonfiction books and practicing more serious academic writing in high school are a necessary part of improving college preparedness, writes Will Fitzhugh in this Education Week Commentary. Fitzhugh, the founder of The Concord Review, the National Writing Board, and the National History Club, laments the accepted practice of assigning only fiction books, and often only selections of novels, rather than whole books or nonfiction reading on subjects like history. According to Fitzhugh, the most important factor in achievement is academic work, and nonfiction reading and writing are a necessary part of serious work.
What do you think? Should high schools require nonfiction reading? Are excerpts, rather than whole novels, sufficient for college preparation? Is the problem with college preparedness the work, or the teachers—or something else entirely?
A version of this news article first appeared in the TalkBack blog.