Only seven in 10 students finishes high school in four years. Is college a realistic goal for all students? Ed Week’s new Diplomas Count 2009 looks at The Challenge of College Readiness for All Students.
The report places the national graduation rate at 69.2 percent for the class of 2006: That’s nearly a 3 percent gain in 10 years, but 2006 saw a decline. The report also calculates graduation rates for states and school districts.
Arizona, South Carolina and Tennessee made double-digit gains; Nevada’s graduation rate slipped the most.
High-poverty, high-minority school systems and urban districts made strong gains. But minority graduation rates remain low.
With Native American, Hispanic, and African-American students from the class of 2006 graduating at rates of no more than 55 percent, a graduation gap of as much as 26 percentage points divides these historically underserved minorities from their white peers.
. . . Detroit had the lowest graduation rate at 26.8 percent, while Cypress-Fairbanks, Texas tops the nation at 80.7 percent.
Beyond a Focus on Graduation looks at postsecondary education. Most educators say all students should be prepared for education beyond high school, but some dissent.
James E. Rosenbaum, a professor of sociology, education, and social policy at Northwestern University, has argued that by “quietly and unofficially” adopting a policy of encouraging all students to attend college, American high schools are doing a poor job of preparing the vast numbers of students who are bound instead for the workplace after high school graduation. With college as the overarching goal, schools focus too much on addressing students’ academic deficiencies, and too little on building work skills prized by employers, he argued . . .
Some urban high schools are trying to build a college-going culture for students whose parents didn’t go far in school.
Students can start college or career training at 16, writes English teacher Michael Mazenko in the Denver Post. He likes New Hampshire’s approach.
Students who’ve completed sophomore year can test in to community colleges or trade schools. Students who remain in high school will take a more rigorous college-prep curriculum based on the AP or IB model, and they will subsequently take tests for admittance into a four-year university.
It will be interesting to see how this works in New Hampshire.