Imagine being 16 years old. You’re a struggling student—your report cards consist mostly of C’s and D’s—and you’re tired of sitting in a desk all day, confounded by quadratic equations, complex sentences, and cell structure. You know what you need to do in order to pass the big tests at the end of the year—but then what?
The Common Core State Standards are ostensibly all about college and career “readiness,” but I’m worried that the pressure for schools and students to achieve high scores on standardized exams will have adverse effects on the number of students who are truly ready for the next steps of their academic or vocational journey.
According to a recent Business Week article, 88 percent of our public high schools still retain career- and technical-education programs, but the number of students receiving job certification is in decline. School districts that once had robust networks of vocational high schools have stripped offerings. In Boston, a city with 625,000 residents, there is only one vocational secondary school, Madison Park Technical Vocational High School.
For every student who graduates from high school prepared and excited to continue his or her education, there are countless others who have marginal credentials to continue schooling and limited exposure to worthy career paths.
Instead of taking two years of foreign language to meet college “readiness” requirements as a junior or senior, why can’t more students take core classes for half the day, then leave school to intern or train as carpenters, electricians, auto technicians, dental assistants, or fitness trainers? <Read more.>