Monday, January 19, 2009

NGA, NCSL, CCSSO and NCSL Release Report on Improving High Schools

Building on the 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) joined together to release a new report on Thursday titled, "Accelerating the Agenda: Actions to Improve America's High Schools."

The report examines states' progress in improving America's high schools and highlights the challenges that remain in ensuring high school graduates are prepared for college and career success in the 21st-century global economy. Allthough many states have implemented reform efforts through a variety of initiatives, Gene Wilhoit, CCSSO executive director, stated, "We're not yet where we need to be. It is up to us as states to make the changes necessary to better prepare these students." To help in this effort, the four organizations have put forth new recommendations offering "fresh" ideas for state leaders on how to: 1) restore value to the high school diploma by elevating academic standards and high school graduation requirements and transforming career and technical education, 2) redesign high schools through alternative delivery mechanisms and re-engaging out-of-school youth through youth development programs, 3) improve schools by providing excellent teachers and principals by connecting teacher preparation, hiring and evaluation to students outcomes, 4) improve accountability by aligning postsecondary expectations to high school expectations and 5) improve education governance by bridging K-12 and post-secondary expectations gaps through P-16 councils.

Lastly, the report highlights the importance of emerging trends, such as: international benchmarking and an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education to increase student readiness; community partnerships and the impact of school drop-out prevention; and high-quality, comprehensive professional development. Wilhoit also noted that any concern about a shift in attention to early childhood as opposed to the secondary level is unnecessary because "college begins before kindergarten."


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