In its release of the “2012 Report on College and Career Readiness,” the College Board announced that the SAT was taken by more high school seniors than ever before, including the highest percentage of students of color. Yet only 43 percent of all test takers met the college readiness benchmark (a predictor of college success), evidence that the nation’s high schools are failing to adequately prepare many graduates to succeed in either college or career.
It’s no secret that some schools and some districts have more funding to work with than others. Now a new report from the Center for American Progress examines inequities in state education finance systems. The findings confirm that in some states, high-poverty districts consistently receive fewer state and local resources than low-poverty districts, a practice that consistently shortchanges larger proportions of our most academically fragile students.
In recent years, states have enthusiastically adopted standards that promote college and career readiness. A new report from Achieve, Closing the Expectations Gap 2012, reminds us once again that simply adopting more rigorous standards is not enough to adequately prepare all students for life after high school. Boosting student preparedness relies squarely on aligning the courses students are expected to take with the new standards, and providing crucial support for districts, teachers, schools — and students, particularly those who are farthest behind.
A new program in Oregon offers a hopeful example of how collaboration and teamwork can produce innovative solutions to enhancing teacher effectiveness and student achievement. TeachOregon, launched by the Chalkboard Project in August, was established with grants totaling $180,000 awarded to five partnerships configured among 20 school districts and six universities. The partnerships will work together to design innovative new models for preparing the next generation of Oregon’s K-12 teachers.
A new report from EdTrust-Midwest highlights the need for better teacher quality measures and professional development. With Michigan’s teacher evaluation system rating nearly every teacher “effective” or higher while student scores slip, “Strengthening Michigan’s Teacher Force” makes the argument for a stronger evaluation system that supports teachers in order to improve student achievement.
Surveys have long shown that college professors, employers, and graduates themselves feel that high schools are graduating students who lack the writing skills necessary to succeed in college and the workplace. Recent results from the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress corroborate these opinions, showing that far too many American middle and high school students have insufficient writing skills.
A recent brief from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) finds few states are taking steps to improve the chances that individuals entering the teaching profession will be effective. For example: while 41 states require teacher preparation programs to screen candidates at either program entrance or exit, the most commonly used basic skills tests only assess skills up to the middle-school level. Making bad matters worse, 95 percent of the states for which NCTQ could obtain test data set the passing score on elementary teachers’ licensure tests at the 16th percentile of all test takers or lower.
Students in California scored a victory recently with the demise of AB 5, a bill that would have pushed the state backward on both teacher evaluations and accountability for basic education. If enacted, the bill would have weakened California’s requirements for teacher evaluations by not meaningfully including student, parent, and community feedback or factoring in student progress and achievement. Such a change would have left the state unable to meet requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education for states seeking waivers from No Child Left Behind.