Robyn Gee, Turnstyle News
Russell Rumberger is an expert on high school dropouts. He recently published a book called, Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can be Done About It, and he currently serves as provost in the Office of the President at the University of California. Rumberger is also director of the California Dropout Research Project. According to Rumberger, roughly 25 percent of U.S. high school students do not graduate. And he says that our country is only making the problem worse by trying to prepare everyone for college.
Turnstyle spoke with Rumberger about how to re-define success in high school by creating multiple pathways for students to find success inside and outside of school.
Turnstyle: In a nutshell, tell us about your argument that when academia focuses solely on getting kids to college, it can lead to more high school dropouts?
Rumberger: I do believe everybody who wants to go to college, has the inclination to go to college, should be able to. Even if they may not have the initial ability, they should still be encouraged and supported to go. It may be harder for them, it may take them longer to finish, but that’s okay. But for students who don’t want to [go to college], they should have an option as well; the opportunity to develop skills that are valued in the job market and take that pathway. What would serve students better in the long run is if we had a broader definition of success in high school to include more things that people can master that we know are important. Some of those things can be best acquired in the classroom, but many can be acquired outside the classroom.
Underlying my assertion is that we want to try to make every kid successful in something. If we define success narrowly by saying how well can you do on an AP test, or a math test, or some other kind of academic test, and that’s the only way we judge success, then the students that have the ability to work with others, the ones that can design things, the ones that know how to cook or fix cars, none of those skills are valued. But if we say, everyone should have something that they can master, and demonstrate mastery of, then there’s this notion that students will develop a sense of competence.Read more...
Sayre Quevedo, Turnstyle News
Kwame Brown, Chairman of Washington DC’s City Council, is the youngest chairman in the history of the city. As a result, Brown says he’s constantly surrounded by young people. And it shows. Brown has spearheaded the development of multiple vocational high schools in D.C. and even leads college tours for young people. But this last week, Brown proposed a law that has the power to make him either wildly popular or unpopular among that same crowd. The College Preparatory Plan Act would require public high school seniors in Wash., D.C. to take the SAT or ACT and apply to at least one post-secondary school.Read more...
The following originally aired on KQED-FM.
By: Sayre Quevedo
Around this time last year I was busy applying to college. Clicking that ‘submit’ button on my online applications, I imagined myself in New York City, going to poetry readings and cramming for various exams. I listened to Patti Smith and Lou Reed over and over in anticipation of receiving acceptance letters. But my acceptance letters were followed by even more important pieces of mail, my federal financial aid statements, or FAFSA.
The minute I saw the amount of financial aid I qualified for, I knew that the price tag of my dream was way out of my budget. My mom is still paying off her college loans, and I had already spent more than I could afford paying for official transcripts, applications, and the ACT test. Tuition at my top school was 30,000 dollars a year and I was going to be on the hook for 2/3 of it.Read more...
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Thanks to a grant by the Department of Labor’s Green Jobs Innovation Fund, the Finishing Trades Institute of the Mid-Atlantic Regions (FTI) is pushing more people toward green construction jobs with their new training program. The Tri-Green Pre-Apprenticeship Program, which was awarded $5.6 million dollars this month, provides participants with not only 10 units of college credit but the hard skills necessary to enter the field. By the time participants finish the one month program they hold knowledge of green construction practices and health and safety knowledge needed on a job site, as well as the industry-recognized certificates to back them. The program will prepare trainees for jobs in construction painting, drywall finishing and glazing. Read more...
One in three young people in the United States are arrested by age 23, finds a study published this week in the journal, Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed data collected by The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Longitudinal Survey, which tracked approximately nine thousand youth 12-16 years old beginning in 1997. The number is up nearly eight percent from the 1960’s when roughly 1 in 5 young people reported being arrested.
According to a Reuters piece on the study, “Those arrests are for everything from underage drinking and petty theft to violent crime, researchers said. They added that the increase might not necessarily reflect more criminal behavior in youth, but rather a police force that's more apt to arrest young people than in the past.”
While many of the young people will likely never see the back of a squad car again, a story in the The Daily Mail underscores that even a small criminal record can present major challenges. "In days gone by fines and citations might have been deemed acceptable. Now many will find their employment prospects damaged by an arrest on their record - even for a minor offence."
From the NYTimes: “The researchers found that the probability of a first arrest accelerated in late adolescence and early adulthood — at 18, 15.9 percent of the participants reported having been arrested — and then began to flatten out as the youths entered their 20s.” Below chart illustrates the pattern.Read more...
This story originally aired on 12/17/11, on WABE-FM, Atlanta.
By Barbara Dougherty
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In a few months, most of my friends will be graduating from college - without me. I dropped out last fall, half way through my junior year. But I still hope to finish my degree someday. I’ve heard the statistics that people with college diplomas will earn more money than those who don’t have degrees.
I also know the unemployment rate isn't good for people who don't finish college. On top of all that, the thought of so many people my age soon entering the job market, competing with me, is intimidating. But my mother has helped me calm my feelings of inadequacy. She always reminds me that I have been successful at getting jobs: from busing tables to managing a frozen yogurt shop.
And now, I have a totally awesome position at a successful startup business - making all natural bath and body products by hand! I sell them at weekend festivals and markets. It’s an intensely fun outlet for my creativity and I’m getting some really great retail experience.
Though I'm disappointed that I didn’t finish college, I’m proud of myself for effectively selling myself to employers in this tight market. When my friends begin looking for jobs next summer, I’ll be able to give them advice on resumes, impressing potential employers, and being a responsible employee.
Previously on WABE:
President Barack Obama’s dream of making the United States the number one developed country in the world by 2025 might take some time to be realized, based on an article in The New York Times.
A country’s rank depends on multiple variables, including the number of people with college degrees. According to the Times‘ article, the rate in which the United States is gaining college graduates gives little chance for Mr. Obama’s goal to be realized, at least not by 2025. The United States current rank is 12th in the world, with a rate of 41.6% of people ages 25 to 34 with Associate Degrees or higher. According to the article:
“From 2000 to 2009, the report noted, the percentage of adults with associate degrees or higher increased by just 3 percent. If that pace holds steady, by 2025 the United States will fall nine percentage points below the president’s goal, with 46 percent of adults holding college degrees.”
North Korea is number one on the list with a rate of 57.9%.
The report does offer solutions in the form of a 10-step plan you can read below:Read more...
This story originally aired on NPR's Morning Edition.
One day last year I skipped school to wait for acceptances from colleges. It was the final day that letters or e-mails were supposed to be sent out.
I sat in front of my laptop by the front door for at least three hours, listening for the mailman while eagerly pressing the refresh button on my inbox. I admit, at one point, I checked my neighbor’s mail. Getting my house skipped on the mail route was one of the less crazy hypotheticals I imagined while waiting.
The college responses I had already received were pinned up on a cork board in the hallway so everyone in my family would pass by them on the way to the bathroom.
After my 300th click I finally got it; my rejection e-mail. It was just 2 paragraphs: we’re very sorry, such-and-such many applicants, etc. etc. Sure, I was upset. But, I thought, at least I still have the other schools on that corkboard.
A few weeks later, I got my federal financial aid notice or FAFSA. It estimates what your family can pay for college, and how much federal aid you can get. I knew the minute I saw those little black numbers it wouldn’t be enough. My mom was still paying off her college loans and I had already spent more than I could afford on high school transcripts, applications, and the ACT test. Tuition at my top school was 30 thousand dollars a year and I was going to be on the hook for two-thirds of it.Read more...
In the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District John O’Connell High School is celebrating the premier of its new solar-powered “woodshop,” According to an article by Jill Tuckler in the San Francisco Chronicle. The barn sized space is equipped with power tools and according to David Goldin, the District Chief Facilities Officer, the space is big enough that students could wheel in a small airplane. The new building is impressive compared to the small classroom where carpentry classes were held before, a room that could fit roughly 15 students at a time. In addition to carpentry the school hopes to see robotics and aeronautics classes eventually taught there.
The introduction of the new space also ushers in a new curriculum where vocational and technical training are combined with college-prep, providing hands-on experience with the academics necessary to fulfill UC standards. Once frowned-upon, vocational training is now being seen as a viable means of giving student’s trade-skills necessary for career paths and the integration of academics with this training means students will be prepared for college as well.Read more...
According to an editorial in the Boston Globe by a top adminsitrator at University of California, students aren’t always to blame for low graduation rates -- high school curriculums have a lot to do with it.
Vice Provost Russell W. Rumberger argues that school systems get locked into a dogmatic “college-ready” approach to academics that might actually be pushing kids away from paths to higher education. “In Chicago, a 2010 study found no positive effects on student achievement from a school reform measure that ended remedial classes and required college preparatory course work for all students,” Rumberger said, “High school graduation rates declined, and there was no improvement in college enrollment and retention rates among students who did graduate.”
He also says that though college readiness is important, strict academic standards may not be providing students with the skills they need. “A number of economists, including Nobel economist James Heckman, have documented the need for noncognitive or so-called soft skills in the labor market, such as motivation, perseverance, risk aversion, self-esteem, and self-control,” he said.
It’s not immediately clear how to teach students soft skills, but Rumberger says that engaging them is the first step. Rumberger cites a 2006 Civic Enterprises report called The Silent Epidemic, in which high school dropouts reported that the most common reason for leaving school was that classes were not interesting. The solution, Rumberger says, is creating more vocational and training programs—which studies show increase attendance and also the likelihood of jobs after graduation.Read more...
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