Don’t blame high schools for low achievement, writes Diane Ravitch in the New York Times.
While the problems of low achievement and poor high-school graduation rates are clear, however, their solutions are not. The reformist governors, for example, want to require all students to take a college-preparatory curriculum and to meet more rigorous standards for graduation. These steps will very likely increase the dropout rate, not reduce it.
To understand why, you have to consider what the high schools are dealing with. When American students arrive as freshmen, nearly 70 percent are reading below grade level. Equally large numbers are ill prepared in mathematics, science and history.
It is hardly fair to blame high schools for the poor skills of their entering students.
Our education system needs to stress academic achievement, not feeling good, Ravitch writes. She also criticizes the move to create small high schools and suggests college prep isn’t the right path for all students.