Looks like the Naval Academy is still struggling to balance diversity with quality:

Midshipmen entering the Naval Academy from its preparatory school were arriving with badly underdeveloped study skills for the past two years, the academy’s superintendent said, which is why the prep school curriculum got a major overhaul this autumn.

Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler said plebes who had come from the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I., had so much trouble with basic studying that academy officials decided to redesign the courses at NAPS to focus on completing assignments and asking for help.

“We decided the first thing that was most important was, get young people to do homework, supervised homework, in class, because that seemed to be the biggest thing over my two previous years: They’re not turning in any homework,” Fowler said. “We found out they didn’t know how to do the homework, or they had questions on it, and at nighttime even if they wanted to ask, the support [at NAPS] wasn’t as robust as we would like.”

Unfortunately, with the news that 75% of potential recruits are unfit to serve, I think there are much more serious problems lurking behind this story. Any thoughts on how the services should be resolving these problems, or whether they should be in this business at all?




Posted by Chris van Avery in Uncategorized


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  • http://smadanek.blogspot.com/ Ken Adams, Amphib Sailor

    They should address this problem by turning NAPS back to its original intent – preparation of fleet sailors and Marines who have demonstrated some smarts and leadership potential for the academic rigors of USNA. It should not be used as a way station for athletics and race-based diversity.
    If VADM Fowler has found the curriculum of instruction at NAPS to be inadequate, and taken corrective action along those lines, then Bravo! The next step is to improve the quality of the input material, and stop bringing in those whose only qualification is their skin color or their speed in the 40.

  • http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com CDR Salamander

    “We decided the first thing that was most important was, get young people to do homework, supervised homework, in class, because that seemed to be the biggest thing over my two previous years: They’re not turning in any homework,” Fowler said. “We found out they didn’t know how to do the homework, or they had questions on it, and at nighttime even if they wanted to ask, the support [at NAPS] wasn’t as robust as we would like.”

    That is as d@mning a paragraph that I have read in a long time from a 3-Star.

    What that tells me is that a large part of the problem with garbage coming out, is that they have garbage going in. No one who was “almost good enough” in high school or was a warfare qualified 5.0 Sailor with all PQS complete earliest amongst his peers would need to be taught to “…do homework.”

    Ken is exactly right about original intent. Do that, and most of your problems would be solved …. and then just play Brown, Harvard, Yale, etc for football. The Fleet will survive.

  • http://partialpanel.blogspot.com Gruntled JO

    The admissions board of the naval academy has a difficult job. They must determine who is likely to succeed in a physically, morally and mentally challenging environment both while at the academy and upon commissioning. For most applicants this determination is made based of the individuals performance in a high school setting which does not accurately reflect all three aspects of such an environment. While they can predict who is likely to excel, ultimately a candidates success depends on their own initiative and natural gifts.

    NAPS should be a place where competitive, though not superior, candidates are sent to refine their personal, professional and academic habits in an environment which closely reflects that of the service academy and the Navy. The largest problem I can see on the part of the academy in running this program is telling midshipman candidates that they will go on to the Naval Academy, and eventually Officership, if they simply meet the minimum requirement (2.0 last I heard). Frankly, following a year at NAPS the admissions board has all the information it needs on an individual (moreso than any other applicant) to make an informed determination of their ability to perform at the Academy and beyond. I imagine that the admissions board would characterize a high-school applicant as non-competitive if their guidance counselor wrote “the student does not know how to do homework” on their application. In short, the SUPT is right-on in ensuring that the prep school is well-organized and properly staffed; it could not do its mission properly without such support. However, given the extra opportunity that NAPS provides, these candidates should compete for the chance to move from Newport to Annapolis.

  • StudyHarder!

    Doing work immediately following class with all your peers and instructors around you is not homework; it’s an in-class assignment. I want to know what is the plan in place to ensure students are doing their work outside of intrusive supervision. If they require constant intrusive supervision, should they be an officer in the naval service?

  • UltimaRatioReg

    “If they require constant intrusive supervision, should they be an officer in the naval service?”

    Uhh, nope. And the expense of trying to turn people like that into Officers in the Naval Service should not be levied on the taxpayer. Especially when that slot would have gone to a more qualified candidate but for a desire for a certain skin color or ethnicity.

  • Byron

    As a taxpayer, career civilian, and most importantly, the father-in-law of a damn fine Chief, I am outraged at the stupidity coming out of the Academies leadership (yeah, you, Fowler). The Academy isn’t about providing a place for atheletes to look good and get you a BCS bowl game…it’s not a means of racial redress. It is the means by which superior officers are sent to the fleet to serve as officers over sailors like my son-in-law. Now, I know as a Chief he can handle the normal officer to a certain extent…but: I envision many sailors dying because of sub-par ensigns and JGs poor training and decision making, and that is totally unsat.

  • http://fredfryinternational.blogspot.com/ Fred Fry

    The Merchant Marine Academy tried ‘supervised homework’ for the first quarter of my plebe year. In short it was a disaster. Nothing worse than throwing a couple hundred students with individual study habits back into classrooms in the evening to ensure that they were all doing homework. Our class did especially poorly that quarter and the resulting school investigation (demanded by Congress) assigned heavy blame to this idiotic experiment.

    There were so many distractions in the classrooms that I often went to the library to read the newspaper during that time, instead starting my homework at 10PM each evening once they were done with us for the day.

  • Spade

    Supervised homework? We had that where I went to school for new the new kids.
    Of course, it was a high school.

    It amazes me how poorly prepared high school kids are these days for college. I was a TA for a while in grad school and it was just terrible.

    NAPS, USNA, or any college, isn’t the place to fix it though.

  • virgil xenophon

    Pathetic. Nothing but pathetic…

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