Tuesday, March 08, 2005

NJ education

The Provost sent this last week from the Record; worth reading if you are going into teaching:
N.J. pledges to upgrade high school education

Monday, February 28, 2005

By BEN FELLER
ASSOCIATED PRESS


WASHINGTON - A coalition of 13 states - including New Jersey - confirmed plans Sunday to require tougher high school courses and diploma requirements, changes that could affect about one in three students nationwide.

The announcement is the most tangible sign that the nation's governors, gathered in the capital for a summit on improving high schools, want to see that progress quickly.

The participating states have committed to making their core high school classes and tests more rigorous, and to match their graduation standards with the expectations of employers and colleges. They also pledged to hold colleges more accountable for ensuring that students graduate.

Such changes would require time and significant legislative and political work, as teachers unions, school boards, legislatures and parents would be affected. Governors, state school chiefs and business executives will lead the efforts in each state.

"This is the biggest step states can take to restore the value of the high school diploma," said Republican Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio, who is co-chairman of Achieve, which is coordinating the effort.

Along with New Jersey, participating states are Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.

Their network will aim to enforce the American Diploma Project, an effort launched last year to prepare every high school student for college-level work.

It calls for big changes - requiring every student to take rigorous math and English regardless of career plans, and tying college admissions to high school exit exams, as examples.

States will maintain the option to adopt what they want, but they have agreed to broad points, such as requiring students to take a test of their readiness for college or work.

The participating states serve an estimated 5 million high school students, or roughly 35 percent of the public high school population in the United States, Achieve spokesmen said.

Achieve president Michael Cohen, an education adviser to former President Bill Clinton, said the group recruited states that seemed most serious about higher standards and seemed poised to act. Other states are expected to join the effort soon.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings went before the governors to tout President Bush's budget proposal and commend the states for making high school achievement a priority.

"Getting every child to graduate high school with a meaningful diploma in their hands is one of the biggest challenges our country faces," Spellings said Sunday. "It's never been done."

Bush, seeking to expand the No Child Left Behind law he championed, wants Congress to require two years of additional state testing in high schools. The governors are expected to approve a policy that does not endorse or oppose Bush's idea but spells out their conditions: input on the plan, flexibility on how it works, and federal money for any costs.

* * *
Class acts

New Jersey and 12 other states have signed on to support the American Diploma Project, which aims to get all students ready for college or work. Specifically, the states committed to:

ŸAlign their high school standards and tests with the skills required in college and the workplace. Colleges and universities would have to clearly define the skills required for their credit-bearing courses, and states would be expected to adjust their English and math standards.

ŸRequire all students to take a test of their readiness for college or work so that children can get help where needed while still in high school.

ŸRequire all students to take a core curriculum that prepares them for college or work. States would have to ensure that rigorous-sounding courses have the content to match.

ŸHold high schools and colleges more accountable for graduating their students. States would have to improve data collection to track individual students through all grades and college.

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