"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The White House summit backs the wrong horse

Stephen Krashen
Comment on: White House Announces $375 Million for High School Redesign (Education Week)

At the time of the White House summit on high schools, it was announced that high school dropout rates had decreased, and that 81% of American students now graduate from high school in four years, an all-time high. Yet summit leaders still think that there are too many who fail to graduate in four years and "a fundamental reworking of secondary school is necessary."

The last time I looked, the US ranked about 20th in the world in dropout rate, with 19 countries having a lower percentage of dropouts. Some of the countries that did better are very small (Switzerland, Iceland), but more important, all have lower rates of poverty.

Study after study has shown that poverty is the major factor in predicting school achievement.  My review of the research (In Krashen, S. 1999. Condemned Without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Publishing Co.) concluded that the major reason students drop out is economic pressure: They had to work to help their families.

Rather than discuss protecting students from the negative impact of poverty or even trying to reduce poverty, conference attendees focused on new technology, pushing untested but drastic and expensive solutions such as competency-based education. 

Posted at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/high_school_and_beyond/2015/11/white_house_announces_375_million_for_high_school_redesign.html

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