Improving High School Graduation Requirements: The Facts About College Readiness
Need to Improve
- Current high school graduation requirements reflect an economy and society that no longer exist1 and do not represent the real-world demands of work and postsecondary education.2
- The skills and knowledge required in the workplace are no longer very different from those needed for success in college.3
- Business executives have said the exodus of U.S. jobs abroad was not to utilize cheap labor, but to access highly educated and conscientious workforces that were not available in the U.S.4
- In a 2005 survey of almost 1,500 recent graduates, just 24% of graduates said they were significantly challenged during high school.
- 1 in 5 recent high school graduates said that “expectations were low and...it was easy to slide by.5
- National data indicate that academic achievement in high school reading, math and science has been mostly stagnant for decades.6
- Approximately 1 in 5 students are ready to enter college or the workplace. Only 22% of ACT-tested students met or exceeded all three ACT College Readiness Benchmarks—these students likely entered high school with the requisite foundational skills, took rigorous courses, worked hard in those courses, and are now ready to enter college and the workplace.7
- Only 32% of students who enter 9th grade and graduate four years later have mastered basic literacy skills and have completed the coursework necessary to succeed in a four-year college.8
- Improving college readiness is crucial to the development of a diverse and talented labor force that is able to maintain and increase U.S. economic competitiveness throughout the world.9
- Employers report that a majority of high school graduates are inadequately prepared to succeed in an increasingly competitive economy.
- For example, more than 60% of employers report that recent graduates have poor math skills, while nearly 75% pointed to a deficiency in grammar and writing skills.
- These high school graduates are likely to become trapped in unskilled, low-paying jobs that do not support a family well above the poverty level, provide benefits or offer a clear pathway for advancement.
- Employers estimate that 39% of recent high school graduates, with no further education, are unprepared for the expectations that they face in entry-level jobs. 45 percent are not adequately prepared for the skills and abilities they need to advance beyond entry level.10
- In a recent survey, 40 percent of high school graduates said they were not adequately prepared for employment or postsecondary education, and that if they could repeat their high school experience, they would work harder, especially in math, science and English.11
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