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June 23, 2005 Extra Credit
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June 23, 2005

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High School Reform Is ‘Central to Our Country’s Success in the World’

The following are excerpts from an article in today’s Los Angeles Times on a high school reform poll:

“Fifty-five percent of Californians - and almost half of Americans as a whole - think the nation's public high schools need reforming, and almost one-third of Californians believe students arriving in ninth grade are ill-prepared for high school and struggle to keep up, a poll released Wednesday found.

“Only 10% of Californians and 9% of Americans in general said high school students are being significantly challenged by their courses, according to a poll conducted for the nonprofit Educational Testing Service.”

“The nationwide survey, which included additional attention to California, New Jersey and Ohio, found strong majorities of Americans want teachers who are proven experts in their subject fields (91%) and favor paying more for qualified teachers even if that requires raising taxes (80%). They also support requiring students to pass a test on core subjects to graduate (80%).

“In addition, 77% of Americans surveyed called for more academically rigorous courses for all students, while 71% said there should be wider choices of types of high schools, and 72% called for an individualized course of study for each student. Survey results in California generally mirrored those nationwide; however, a larger percentage of Californians saw a need for substantial high school reforms (55% to 48% nationwide).

“The survey, dubbed ‘Ready for the Real World? Americans Speak on High School Reform,’ was conducted in April by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster David Winston. It was the fifth annual survey commissioned by the Educational Testing Service to tap views on education issues.”

“Americans care deeply about the quality of their schools and are concerned that, without improvements, the nation will not be able to compete in today’s global economy, [Kurt] Landgraf, [the service’s president and CEO] said.

“‘Americans view our public education system as central to our country's success in the world,’ he said.”

Earlier this year, President Bush announced a High School Initiative that would hold high schools accountable for teaching all students and provide timely intervention for those students who are not achieving at grade level. The goal of this initiative is to ensure that every student graduates from high school with the skills to succeed in either higher education or our globally competitive workforce. In addition, the president’s budget shifts more decision-making power to states by consolidating programs dedicated to a specific purpose and reallocates that money to states to use in order to get better results. In the FY 2006 budget request, the president includes nearly $1.5 billion for these reforms.

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 06/24/2005