Only 70 percent of students graduate from high school on schedule, concludes an Education Week report, “Ready for What?” Utah, which spends the least per student, has the highest on-time graduation rate, 83.8 percent; South Carolina ranked lowest with a 53.8 percent rate. Among large school districts, Detroit has the lowest graduation rate — just below 25 percent. Nationwide, about half of black and Hispanic males graduate from high school in four years.
It takes more than a high school diploma to earn a decent living. Workers with a high school diploma or less cluster in the lowest “job zone” with a median annual income of $12,638.
However, only 40 percent of jobs require college skills. The rest require communications, problem-solving, good work habits and ninth-grade academic skills. The problem is that many high school graduates lack the academic and “soft skills” employers demand.
Young people must also be able to work comfortably with people from other cultures, solve problems creatively, write and speak well, think in a multidisciplinary way, and evaluate information critically. And they need to be punctual, dependable, and industrious.
The feature about schools that try to teach soft skills makes me wonder: If a girl scores a 71 percent in understanding the content of Algebra 2 but 100 percent on collaborating with team members and 135 percent (?) on speaking skills, is she a C student in Algebra 2? A B student? Maybe an A student? She might be a success in life without understanding advanced algebra, but she isn’t really a success in advanced algebra, is she?
States are just starting to look at what happens to their high school graduates in college or employment, writes Kevin Carey on Education Sector.