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Sunday, May 11, 2008
Do high school econ courses prepare students for college econ courses?
I’m currently preparing to teach a course called Economics for Teachers for the first time this coming fall. I’ll explain much more about the course in future posts but the main idea is that it is for students who are planning to be high school teachers, perhaps in economics (though more likely another social science, like History). The idea for the class really started when I happened to see
’s content standards for 12th-grade economics. California is one of the leading states in the country when it comes to having well-developed and rigorous standards for its K-12 schools, and we were one of the first states to require all high school students to take a semester of economics, so I wasn’t surprised that we have standards that align fairly well with the voluntary National standards. But what struck me is that the standards really don’t look all that different from the learning objectives I lay out for my own principles classes. That led to me to wonder if students are actually learning what is laid out in the 12th-grade standards. If they are, I think my principles classes would be a lot different [I should note that almost all my students went to high school in California so from that perspective, it should be safe to assume that they have all had at least one semester of economics that ‘covered’ the state standards]. Given that most students seem to walk into my classroom with relatively little understanding of economic principles, why is that? When I think back to my own high school economics class, the only thing I really remember is playing some stock market game where we followed a particularly stock throughout the semester – I have no recollection what the point was or what I learned from that, nor do I remember seeing any connection to the economics course I took a year later in college. But is the problem with the classes (i.e., they aren’t actually covering the standards)? Or is it that students don’t retain much (particularly when senioritis has set in)? Or maybe a little of both?