Professor Tony Wagner of Harvard weighs in on the global achievement gap affecting millions of U.S. students each year. In his 2010 book, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need–and What We Can Do About It outlines some pretty staggering statistics regarding high school students:
Some Basic Facts
The high school graduation rate in the United States—which is about 70 percent of the age cohort—is now well behind that of countries such as Denmark (96 percent), Japan (93 percent), and even Poland (92 percent) and Italy (79 percent).
- Only about a third of U.S. high school students graduate ready for college today, and the rates are much lower for poor and minority students.
- Forty percent of all students who enter college must take remedial courses.
- And while no hard data are readily available, it is estimated that one out of every two students who start college never complete any kind of post-secondary degree.
- Sixty-five percent of college professors report that what is taught in high school does not prepare students for college. One major reason is that the tests students must take in high school for state-accountability purposes usually measure 9th or 10th grade-level knowledge and skills. Primarily multiple-choice assessments, they rarely ask students to explain their reasoning or to apply knowledge to new situations (skills that are critical for success in college), so neither teachers nor students receive useful feedback about college-readiness.
- In order to earn a decent wage in today’s economy, most students will need at least some post-secondary education. Indeed, an estimated 85 percent of current jobs and almost 90 percent of the fastest-growing and best-paying jobs now require post-secondary education. Even today’s manufacturing jobs now largely require post-secondary training and skills.
- According to the authors of “America’s Perfect Storm”: “Over the next 25 years or so . . . nearly half of the projected job growth will be concentrated in occupations associated with higher education and skill levels. This means that tens of millions more of our students and adults will be less able to qualify for higher-paying jobs. Instead, they will be competing not only with each other and millions of newly arrived immigrants but also with equally (or better) skilled workers in lower-wage economies around the world.”
- The United States now ranks tenth among industrial nations in the rate of college completion by 25- to 44-year-olds.
- Students are graduating from both high school and college unprepared for the world of work. Fewer than a quarter of the more than 400 employers recently surveyed for a major study of work-readiness reported that new employees with four-year-college degrees have “excellent” basic knowledge and applied skills. Among those who employ young people right out of high school, nearly 50 percent said that their overall preparation was “deficient.”
- Only 47 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in the last presidential election, compared to 70 percent of 34- to 74-year-olds.
To read more from his book, click on the link below.