In an excellent series, the Oregonian looks at high school underachievement. While elementary students are doing better than ever in Oregon, high school students aren’t showing any progress.
The slide is dramatic: Six years ago, two of three Oregon fifth-graders earned proficient scores on state reading exams. As that group of students moved to middle school, fewer met standards. And by the time those students completed their second year of high school last spring, only about half met reading standards.
Many students are “disconnected.” They don’t think they’re learning anything valuable in school. They don’t think their teachers know them or care about them. And sometimes they’re right.
At Barlow High, students in English, biology and Spanish classes regularly listen to music on headphones rather than their teachers, even after instructors stop class and ask them to turn off their compact disc players.
Ask them? What ever happened to confiscating contraband?
Here’s an AP history class at Beaverton High:
The lesson is lively but constantly interrupted. Someone pops open a can of soda. A boy eats his way through potato chips, Doritos and a sandwich. Two students come to the door with prom pictures. A dozen students enter and leave during the period.
Teachers are shocked to learn their high school will be labeled “failing” by the state.
The Oregonian also profiles three students who are sliding through school. Even the college-bound student has decided to take easy classes so he can get As and Bs without breaking a sweat.
This is unusually good reporting. It’s not just an Oregon problem either.