Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, issued the following statement today in reaction to the results from The Nation’s Report Card: 12th-Grade Reading and Mathematics 2005 and The Nation’s Report Card: America’s High School Graduates.
“High school commencement was right around the corner for the students who took these tests in 2005. The fact that at least two out of every three students who walked across the stage on graduation day lacked essential skills in reading or math should concern every citizen. With 65 percent of the nation’s high school seniors reading below grade level, and 77 percent performing below grade level in math, the results from the Nation’s Report Card demonstrate that the United States is failing to teach its older students the basic skills they need to succeed in the competitive global economy of the twenty-first century.
“Students who score below grade level are not sufficiently prepared for college or the workforce of the twenty-first century. So in the next few years, they will need additional training—whether in the form of remedial courses in college or on-the-job training from an employer—learning later what they should have learned in high school. Rather than spending billions each year on remediation, the nation should invest in improving the literacy and math skills of middle and high school students, while it continues to support these efforts in the early grades.
“Encouraging students to take rigorous courses is another way to ensure that they are adequately prepared for the challenges and opportunities of life after high school. According to the 2005 high school transcript study, however, the percentage of students taking a rigorous curriculum has remained stagnant since 2000.
“Without providing additional resources for programs that meet the academic needs of older students, and unless a greater priority is placed on the importance of a rigorous curriculum, the nation’s schools will continue to produce far too many high school dropouts and disgracefully high numbers of graduates who are unprepared for work or postsecondary education. Simply assuming that gains in the early grades will carry students through middle and high school is obviously not working. How long will it be before we learn the truth of the saying that ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?’”
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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.
For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.com.