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What key skills do students need for post-secondary education and employment?
Research has shown every high school graduate should have a series of key competencies to be successful after graduation. In "Chasing the College Acceptance Letter: Is it Harder to Get into College?", the body of research shows that high school students should at least have the skills in Algebra II and Chemistry to have a 50/50 chance of college acceptance. The more rigorous the curriculum, for example learning the skills in Calculus and Advance Biology, the higher your chances are (68 percent) of college acceptance. In the second section of "Defining a 21st Century Education", the detailed explanation of skills and knowledge includes the need for traditional knowledge and skills, better application of that knowledge to deal with real world challenges, development of critical thinking, and adaptation to change. These larger themes are further explored deeper into the section, including information on foundational skills, practical literacies, and broader competencies.
How are high school graduates performing in college and the workplace?
The first-year retention rate in college leads to an understanding of how prepared high school students are to eventually earn a post-secondary degree. The report “High school rigor and good advice: Setting up students to succeed,” identifies things schools can do to increase their students’ chances they will persist in post-secondary programs. Also find national and state data on college persistence rates.
Are our students enrolling in college?
This Data First piece measures the number of ninth graders who eventually enroll in college. This data piece measures the success of the high-school-to-college pipeline and is a good indicator of whether a school should examine why students are not persisting through the pipeline.
Are our students ready for college?
This Data First question helps examine how prepared students are for post-secondary education through a study of SAT/ACT scores. SAT/ACT scores are a good indicator of a student’s intention on going to college and his or her performance during the first year of college.
Are our students graduating from high school?
This Data First question will examine graduation rates as a measure of school success. It also addresses how to find answers on who is graduating and how to account for students who leave, explaining what data is needed to accurately depict the number of students who graduate from high school with a standard diploma within four years.
What happens to students when they drop out?
Students who drop out face a lifetime of hardships. In the beginning of the Keeping Kids in School report, the research summary shows that “dropouts are far more likely to become unemployed, receive public assistance, commit crimes, and become incarcerated. At the same time, they are less likely to receive job-based health insurance and pension plans, to stay healthy and live full lives, and to vote and make other kinds of civic contributions.” In Better Late than Never, the examination of how late graduates fare also shows how poorly dropouts do. In the section "Do late graduates get and keep good jobs?" there are several statistics where you can see that dropouts are far more likely to have the lowest incomes and are less likely to have a job with benefits. The same holds true for the section "Are late graduates good citizens?" where we see dropouts are more likely to make bad health decisions and less likely to be civically engaged.
Does how a student completes high school (on time, GED, late graduation, other credential) make a difference after high school?
How a student completes high school does have an effect on a student after graduation. According to the "Better Late than Never" report, you can see how on-time graduates do the best overall post-graduation, including completing a college degree and being employed. Late graduates do very well and sometimes are only a few percentage points away from on-time graduates in number of college credits earned and employment rate.
Who is not going to finish high school or will not finish in time?
Identifying potential dropouts is a significant key for dropout prevention. In the Keeping Kids in School’s "Prediction" section, a cohort study points to poor academic performers and disengaged students as those who are more likely to drop out. The Better Late than Never report’s section on "Why late graduates are late" also talks about academic predictors (poor math and English performance) as the key characteristics of those who will not finish school in time.
How do we identify potential dropouts or late graduates?
The basic answer to this question is to look at the data. But there is specific data schools need to examine to identify potential dropouts. According to both "Keeping Kids in School" and "Better Late than Never," it is academic performance indicators that schools should be studying. In the "Educational Experiences" section of "Keeping Kids in School," engagement can be monitored through attendance data, behavior problems, and class participation reports to gauge just how much a student participates in school. "Keeping Kids in School" also emphasizes the need to pay close attention to academic performance data in the transition years. “Problems develop early, and reliable predictors of dropping out—such as declining grades or attendance—can be observed very early in the year.”
How do we keep kids in school and get them to finish on time?
There are many programs out there claiming to help students see the value in school, but the "Keeping Kids in School" report focuses on the few that provide the prevention and intervention pieces discussed earlier in the report. Successful programs discussed in the report include Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success, Check and Connect, The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, Quantum Opportunities Program, The School Transitional Environmental Program, Career Academies and Talent Development High Schools. Most of these programs have their own section in the report with information on the pieces involved and the results of the program.
How do school-wide approaches like a rigorous curriculum, high expectations, and connections affect potential dropouts and late graduates?
School-wide approaches have a significant impact on keeping students in high school and graduating on time. In the "Better Late Than Never" report, the suggestions for school boards section says that school boards could lessen the burden of getting students to graduate on time if a rigorous curriculum were in place, including an academic math course for all ninth graders. In "Keeping Kids in School", the research shows that school-wide factors matter just as much as social factors for dropping out. The report talks about a school's “holding power” and describes school-wide academic challenge and supportive environments. It even goes as far as saying that "other things being equal, high schools whose teachers are highly supportive of students manage to cut the probability of dropping out nearly in half.”
How has the changing world affected what should be in the high school curriculum?
Part 1 of Defining a 21st Century Education answers this question. At the end of every subsection (Automation, Workplace Change, Demographics, etc.) there is a brief summary of what these changes mean for a school or student. For example, in the Automation subsection, the summary says that schools will need to do more than require rote memorization and following of rules. Also, the Demographics subsection suggests that schools will need to not only be prepared for a more diverse student population, but also teach students the skills to work with a more diverse population.
How should the skills of the high school curriculum be taught?
In the 21st Century report, the high school curriculum is broken down into three branches: foundational skills, practical literacies, and broader competencies. (These branches can be found in sections under Part 2.) Foundational skills include the traditional subjects (math, English/reading, science, and social studies). The author explains that practical literacies and broader competencies can be taught within the traditional subjects. For example, technological literacy can be taught throughout the traditional subjects as teachers demonstrate to students how to use technology responsibly, reflectively, and effectively to enhance what they learn in school.
How should the skills of the high school curriculum be measured?
While testing for traditional subjects and literacies like math and science are fairly standard, assessing the broader competencies (critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, etc.), has recently come around. Starting on page 52 of the 21st Century report, there are descriptions of several assessment programs. There is the Collegiate Learning Assessment (measures ability to evaluate, analyze, draw conclusions, and present arguments), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Definition and Selection of Competencies project, and the Skills Commission’s review. All can be used to help us understand what it means to teach these competencies.
What defines a rigorous high school curriculum?
A rigorous curriculum is defined by the "21st Century" report as not just about the level of content but the kinds of skills studied. For example, the "Building the Foundation" describes the Skills Commission’s findings and all of the skills needed in a rigorous high school curriculum. In "Keeping Kids in School", the "Prevention" section, rigor is defined as not only a challenging curriculum, but an engaging curriculum, one that has teachers pushing students to learn and making connections to personal experience. In "Chasing the College Acceptance Letter", what defines rigor is specific courses, like trigonometry and chemistry.
What courses do our students need to complete in order to graduate from high school?
This Data First question helps you answer what a high school diploma means in your school. You can look at what is required in other schools for a diploma to see where you compare and improve your own course requirements.
Do our students have access to rigorous high school courses and curricula?
This Data First question takes you to information on students who took Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Rigorous high school courses like AP exams measure a school’s capacity to provide the type of curriculum necessary for college and beyond. AP courses are one of the most popular methods for delivering rigorous coursework in high school.
What data do school boards need to assess whether high schools are successful?
Assessing high schools is as varied as the data collected on high school. The Defining a 21st Century Education report uses data from a few places that school boards should also consider using to create a more comprehensive picture of their schools’ successes, including the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), the British KS3 ICT assessment, and Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA). In the Keeping Kids in School and Better Late than Never reports, data focused on educational experiences (grades, test scores, retention rates, attendance, behavior reports) are all examined and linked to identifying potential dropouts and late graduates. In Chasing the College Acceptance Letter, the report reviews high school transcript data and college entrance exam data, and gives a sidebar telling readers where they can get this data.
How many of our students ultimately receive a high school credential?
This U.S. census-based Data First question provides you with the number of adults who have earned a standard diploma, GED, or certification of completion. It can be used as a benchmark for graduation rates.
What happens to students in my community after they graduate from high school?
A Data First training guide that provides school boards with the basics on how to track students once they leave their schools, including college attendance, degree earned, and other indicators of how well their students were prepared. It also provides information on surveying businesses to see how well high school prepared students for the work place.
Is our high school curriculum tough enough?
Individual high schools vary, but as the report “Is High School Tough Enough?” shows, the following facts should raise some concerns:
Almost two-fifths of high school graduates “are not adequately prepared” by their high school education for entry-level jobs or college-level courses. In addition, many low-income schools lack access to a rigorous high school curriculum by any definition.
Do AP courses improve student outcomes post-graduation?
Using AP courses as a way to increase the rigor of high school curriculum (and therefore improve student outcomes post-graduation) is an increasingly common strategy. The report “Is The High School Curriculum Tough Enough?” looks at the phenomenon.
Does dual enrollment improve student outcomes post-graduation?
According to the research reviewed in the report “Is High School Tough Enough?” it seems that dual enrollment programs have many benefits, such as expanding the number and type of courses available to students, preparing them for the academic rigor of college, and building study skills for furthering their education.
Do early college high school programs improve student outcomes post-graduation?
Early college high school programs are part of a philanthropic movement that offers rigorous courses to high school students in order for them to earn advanced college credit. Because this strategy is small and based on philanthropy rather than a system-wide change in schools, it does not promise to solve all the challenges of post-secondary success.
What are the effects of a more rigorous math curriculum?
A more rigorous high school math curriculum has significant benefits for students. The report “Is High School Tough Enough?” cites Clifford Adelman’s research, which found that taking a math course beyond the level of Algebra II (such as trigonometry or pre-calculus) doubled the odds that a student entering college would complete a bachelor’s degree.
What can school boards do to make sure the high school curriculum is rigorous enough?
School boards can start by tracking what happens to graduates after they leave high school.
Inside This Section
Explore By Question
What are the key goals and characteristics of a successful high school?
What advantages are there for students and the community when more students complete high school?
What should a high school curriculum contain?
What should school boards be doing to ensure successful high schools?
Investing in high-quality pre-kindergarten education yields benefits for kids, school, and communities.
All in Favor
Why is it important to vote in local school board elections and questions you should ask about candidates.
The right questions to ask for a full picture of the quality of your schools.
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