High school seniors aren’t college ready because they weren’t high school ready.
There’s a purpose for middle school, but is it being fulfilled based on student readiness for high school? The U.S. Education Department reports that the high school graduation rate is at an all-time high at 83.2 percent. Four out of five students are successful in course completion and graduate within four years. While these statistics sound like a reason for a standing ovation, they are overshadowed by the crisis that is sweeping the United States. While 80 percent of high school seniors receive a diploma, less than half of those are able to proficiently read or complete math problems. We are celebrating increased numbers in high school graduates but they aren’t college or career ready. Deficiency in reading and math doesn’t begin in high school. In my opinion, middle school helps take data from 4th and 5th grades and allows for students to get the support needed 6th – 8th to bring them up to grade level and successfully transition into high school.
What’s causing high school seniors to make it to across the stage to graduation but not successfully matriculate through college or aren’t prepared for careers? Students are being passed on to the next grade when they should be held back. The quality and rigor of lessons provided isn’t helping advance students knowledge or bring students up to grade level standards. Teacher (both in the classroom and parents) effectiveness and efficiency. Lack of student initiative and motivation for learning. School data collected through benchmarks, assessments and classwork highlights this as well as how students are unable to complete grade-level tasks or meet standards.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the largest standardized test administered in the United States, reports that fewer than 40 percent of graduating seniors have mastered reading and math and are poorly equipped for college and real world life. These students who are passed to the next grade are at a serious disadvantage and have an increased chance of falling behind and dropping out of college. How many of these students went to tutorial, study hall, Saturday school, after school programming for support? Were the parents actively engaged? How was education continued at home from the classroom? All of this matters in how students are prepared for high school. Changing this begins with how we reform the middle school model in order to focus on high school and college readiness. This should include SEL (social, emotional learning), character education, advanced electives i.e. coding, home economics, app development, foreign languages, etc., restorative based discipline programs and rigorous academia.
5 Areas That Help Prepare Students for High School
- Family Engagement – families must be engaged in grades 6th – 8th just as much as elementary school but in different capacities
- Student Services – meets the social, emotional and academic needs of all students
- Student Activities – provides students with an outlet to be creative, be competitive and just have fun!
- Student Leadership – having an SGA and student led conferences empowers students to have an active voice in their academic careers
- School Culture – builds tenure and moral of staff, sets the tone and vision and creates the expectation of excellence in all areas
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.