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Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts Executive Summary

Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts Executive Summary

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Published by Achieve, Inc.
Based on both statistical analysis of employment data and extensive research involving over 300 faculty members from two- and four-year postsecondary institutions, managers, and high school educators, the American Diploma Project benchmarks concretely define the English and math that graduates must master to succeed in credit-bearing college courses and high-performance, high-growth jobs. Key findings: employers' and colleges' academic demands for high school graduates have converged, yet states' current high-school exit expectations fall well short of those demands. The American Diploma Project was funded by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. (2004)

Download the full report at http://www.achieve.org/readyornot
Based on both statistical analysis of employment data and extensive research involving over 300 faculty members from two- and four-year postsecondary institutions, managers, and high school educators, the American Diploma Project benchmarks concretely define the English and math that graduates must master to succeed in credit-bearing college courses and high-performance, high-growth jobs. Key findings: employers' and colleges' academic demands for high school graduates have converged, yet states' current high-school exit expectations fall well short of those demands. The American Diploma Project was funded by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. (2004)

Download the full report at http://www.achieve.org/readyornot

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Published by: Achieve, Inc. on Mar 26, 2010
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Creating a High SchoolDiploma That Counts
 A partnership of 
ReadyorNot
Executive Summary
 
2
THE PROBLEM
or too many graduates, the American high school diploma signifies only abroken promise. While students and their parents may still believe that thediploma reflects adequate preparation for the intellectual demands of college orwork, employers and postsecondary institutions know that it often serves as little morethan a certificate of attendance. Consider:
I
Most high school graduates need remedial help in college.
More than 70 percent of graduates enter two- and four-year colleges, but at least 28 percent of those studentsimmediately take remedial English or math courses. Transcripts show that during theircollege careers, 53 percent of students take at least one remedial English or math class. Thepercentages are much higher for poor and minority students.
I
Most college students never attain a degree.
While a majority of high school graduatesenter college, fewer than half leave with a degree. Significantly fewer blacks and Hispanicsthan whites attain bachelor’s degrees. Many factors influence this attrition, but the prepa-ration students receive in high school is thegreatest predictor of bachelor’s degree attain-ment — more so than family income or race.
I
Most employers say high school graduateslack basic skills.
More than 60 percent of employers rate graduates’ skills in grammar,spelling, writing and basic math as only “fair” or “poor.” One study estimated thecost of remedial training in reading,writing and mathematics to a single state’semployers at nearly $40 million a year.
I
Too few high school students takechallenging courses.
Most states requirehigh school students to take a certainnumber of courses in English and mathematics, but very few can ensure thatthe course content reflects the knowledge and skills that colleges and employers demand,such as Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II.
I
Most high school exit exams don’t measure what matters to colleges and employers.
Nearly half the states require students to pass exit exams to graduate, but these examsgenerally assess 8th or 9th grade content, rather than the knowledge and skills that ade-quately prepare students for credit-bearing college courses or high-performance, high-growth jobs.
Share of Jobs
More Jobs Are Highly Paid or Skilled,Require More Education
Highly Paid Professional Jobs
Earnings: $40,000+Projected Job GrowthRate: 20%
Well-Paid, Skilled Jobs
Earnings: $25,000–$40,000Projected Job GrowthRate: 12%
Low-Paid or Low-Skilled Jobs
Earnings: Less than $25,000Projected Job GrowthRate: 15%
25%37%38%
F
Source: American Diploma Project, 2002
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 
THE SOLUTION
What will it take to restore value to the American highschool diploma?
First,
state policymakers need toanchor high school graduation requirements and assess-ments to the standards of the real world: the knowledgeand skills that colleges and employers actually expect if young people are to succeed in their institutions.
Inreturn,
colleges and employers need to start honoringand rewarding student achievement on state standards-based assessments by using these performancedata intheir admissions, placement and hiring decisions.To help advance this agenda, Achieve, Inc.; TheEducation Trust; and the Thomas B. FordhamFoundation launched the American Diploma Project(ADP). The goal was to determine the English and math-ematics skills that high school graduates need in order tobe successful in college and the workplace and to helpstates incorporate those skills into their standards,assessments and high school graduation requirements.After two years of intensive work with high schoolteachers, college professors and employers, the ADPpartnership has released a set of benchmarks thatdescribe the specific English and mathematics knowl-edge and skills that graduates must have mastered if they expect to succeed in postsecondary education or inhigh-performance, high-growth jobs. The report alsoincludes actual workplace tasks and postsecondary assignments that illustrate the practical application of the“must-have” competencies described in the benchmarks.In addition to establishing benchmarks for what highschool graduates need to know, the ADP partnership hascreated an action agenda and challenged policymakers,educators and business leaders across the country to dotheir part to make the high school diploma count.
More Than Half of All College StudentsTake Remedial Courses ...
Percentage of postsecondary students takingremedial English or math courses
53%
... And Students Who Take RemedialCourses Are Less Likely To Finish College
45%18%
One Course Three or MoreCourses, IncludingReading
    P   e   r   c   e   n   t   a   g   e   o    f    S   t   u    d   e   n   t   s    E   n   r   o    l    l   e    d    i   n    R   e   m   e    d    i   a    l    C   o   u   r   s   e   s    W    h   o    E   a   r   n   a    B   a   c    h   e    l   o   r    ’   s    D   e   g   r   e   e
454035302520151050
Source: National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1998
3
READY OR NOT: CREATING A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA THAT COUNTS

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