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AM News: School Safety High on Obama's Second-Term Agenda

Obama Puts School Safety High on Second-Term Agenda PoliticsK12: Obama's pledge on school safety comes less than a week after his administration released a lengthy list of policy prescriptions to prevent further gun violence. They include new money for states to put safety plans in place, and a major focus on beefing up mental health services, including training teachers to recognize the signs of mental illness and get students the help they need.

AMNewsObama Evaluating Early Childhood Education Push In Second Term HuffPostEdu: According to sources close to the administration, Duncan and the Department of Health and Human Services are outlining a plan to create universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds from low- and some middle-income families -- approximately 1.85 million children.

'Mail To The Chief' Program Sends Letters Of Advice To Obama On Inauguration - From Kids HuffPostEdu: The letter-writing campaign is part of the "Mail to the Chief" program, launched in 2008 by handwriting curriculum Handwriting Without Tears. The program seeks to garner student interest in government and cultivate an appreciation for written communication.

Teachers’ test boycott draws growing support SeattleTimes: Support is growing for Garfield High teachers in their boycott of a district-required test. Seattle Public Schools officials, while saying the test has value, also are acknowledging that some of the teachers’ concerns have merit.

High-School Graduation Rate Inches Up WSJ: The U.S. public high-school graduation rate climbed to a 35-year high in 2010, according to new federal data, although U.S. high-school students are still struggling to keep up with their international peers.

Anti-Poverty Program Found to Yield Few Academic Gains EdWeek: Ten to 15 years after leaving neighborhoods of concentrated poverty, children of the Moving to Opportunity program are in most ways no better off than their peers who stayed put. But new findings from the ongoing study of their urban communities suggest more comprehensive school-neighborhood improvement initiatives stand a better chance of breaking the cycle of poverty.

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It's not methodologically possible to compare U.S. high school graduation rates to other nations' graduation rates. Here's why:

In some/most/many/all other developed nations (I don't have a full accounting), students on the vocational track (and in at least one nation, the Netherlands, arts track) graduate legitimately after the equivalent of our 10th grade, at or about age 16.

So in those nations, a student who leaves school after 10th grade at or about age 16, is a high school graduate. In our nation, any student who leaves school at or about age 16 is a dropout.

So any statement about comparisons is completely invalid.

Caroline's statement significantly misrepresents the transitions from education to employment available to teens around the world. The really important issue is what happens to the young people in the months and years immediately after they leave school; and the period of overlap in countries with a "dual system" of simultaneous vocational education and apprenticeship, when students are both still in school and are also in places of employment, a situation common in the central European countries with model careers and technical education programmes, is neglected by most Americans who are concerned about high school graduation data. The OECD data calculates, among other statistics, secondary school completion rates because successfully attaining an upper secondary completion certificate represents "the minimum credential for finding a job in almost all OECD countries." But in some countries, such as Switzerland, the vast majority of secondary school leavers are either in well paying jobs for which they have earned legally recognized qualifications or they are in higher education programmes that they are statistically very likely to complete; whereas in the United States, the average high school graduate is preparing to enter a local community college while also working a low-paying job and has academic skills inadequate to make college success likely; she is most likely to attend college for a few years, accumulate an assortment of credits and debts, and leave, with crushed dreams and limited prospects in the real-world economy of the 21st century.

I didn't misrepresent what happens to students after they leave school in other developed nations. I didn't mention it at all. I pointed out that because of the different design of high schools between the U.S. and other developed nations,it is not possible to compare high school graduation rates.

It's true, Caroline, you didn't mention the months and years immediately after secondary school; my comment was intended to suggest that perhaps you, and more importantly others (like many in the administration) who are concerned with this statistic, should be focused on that. Differently designed high schools lead to very different lives for young people at the end of their teen years; and in continental Europe, particularly northern Europe, particularly (although not exclusively) in countries speaking German-based languages, in cultures which have never lost respect for work and which never developed dependence on overseas imperialism, and which have several different designs for high school, our comprehensive design is generally considered the worst, the least satisfactory.

Research suggests that expanding instructional time is as effective as other commonly discussed educational interventions intended to boost learning, such as increasing teacher quality and reducing class size.

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