10 Problem Math Quiz That Has To Do With Area Is High School Preparing Students for College?

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Is High School Preparing Students for College?

The struggles of young people without college degrees constitute a labor market crisis as they bounce from one dead-end job to another, unable to develop skills, status and income. Employers complain that these employees lack basic skills, which must be brought to work. The growing shortage of skilled workers suggests that education reform must address improving the capabilities and opportunities of high school graduates. This article shows that schools have misunderstood the problems of access to work by focusing on college access and that students have misunderstood the incentives for success. In addition, many other nations communicate incentives effectively, and American schools could improve incentives and access to work.

Schools view student issues too narrowly

High schools have responded to the poor job market primarily by encouraging college-for-all policies, which has led most seniors to plan for college, even those who are low achievers. However, their expectations will be largely disappointed, as only 37.6% of those planning a degree receive one within 10 years of graduation; and of those graduating with high school Cs or lower planning degrees, only 16.1% earn the degree after 10 years. Despite good intentions, high school counselors fail to inform students about the effort required to graduate from college, fostering unrealistic expectations without exploring high-paying careers in trades that would be more realistic options for many.

In addition, school policies focus too much on academic performance, overlooking soft skills such as motivation, reliability, attention to quality and social interaction, which many employers value above academic skills. Even a skill as basic as effort remains unpracticed as students believe that academic effort has little bearing on their future. In addition, behaviors such as absenteeism, insubordination, and incomplete work are tolerated in high schools, while employers value antisocial behaviors in young workers.

Students need clearer incentives

Education policies also do not provide students with a clear understanding of the incentives for mastery of both academic and soft skills. Teachers are urged to increase student motivation, but the rewards for these efforts remain unclear. Institutions need mechanisms to communicate the value of student actions to college and career goals. Instead, schools often indicate that scholastic behavior is irrelevant to immediate goals, as universities’ open admissions policies allow even weak students to enroll. In addition, employers ignore high school performance records in hiring, in part because they do not consider them reliable or cannot obtain them. Instead of using high school performance in hiring decisions, they limit graduates to entry-level work until they prove themselves. As a result, students cannot tell whether or how their goals are being met.

Incentives to other nations

Many other nations offer clearer incentives for achievement that Americans could use as policy models. Foreign education systems clearly link school performance and career outcomes. In Germany, for example, students who find themselves at work strive to achieve learning that leads to respected occupations, knowing that high school grades affect the selection of these opportunities. Apprenticeship certification then gives young Germans a sense of accomplishment that is rare for young Americans. Unlike our unemployed graduates, unemployed German apprentices feel unlucky, not incompetent. Similarly, in Japan, high school grades are linked to access to respected occupations for workers. If their achievement is too low for their goals, Japanese students know this in advance and can increase effort or lower expectations.

Improvement of labor market entry policies

U.S. schools already have a system that links academic performance to the goals of the foreign model, but it only extends to the minority of students who aspire to selective colleges. Test scores inform high-achieving students long before graduation of their likelihood of admission and the need for increased effort. Low-achieving students, who typically aspire only to less selective institutions, lack these incentives, which apprenticeships or more rigorous college admissions standards might provide. The perceived gap between high school performance and job success could also be bridged by educating students about research showing that better high school grades and soft skills predict better earnings. For example, a one-letter grade increase (from C to B) is associated with a 12% gain in earnings 9 years after high school.

Additionally, high schools could link job-finding assistance to performance and inform students of research indicating that accessing a job through a school contact increases nine-year earning potential in a 17% Counselors and other educators should stop keeping students in the dark about the consequences of their performance, even if they withhold information just to be nice to students or to appease parents.

Improve contacts with the university and employers

Improving students’ contacts with universities and employers can clarify the incentives for achievement. Two reforms have shown promise, despite the difficulties in aligning these high school experiences with later demands. First, technology preparation programs articulate the undergraduate and graduate curriculum with community college technology programs, teaching students about college and occupational demands and facilitating a seamless college transition. Success in technical preparation indicates that a student is ready for college, and failure motivates efforts to improve and adjust goals. Unfortunately, existing tech prep programs often have below-standard requirements, leaving students ignorant of college-level demands and relegated to remedial classes in college. Further reform should focus on integrating these demands into the preparatory curriculum.

Second, youth learning and cooperative learning programs provide some students with the work experiences they need to improve their chances of success in the labor market. Apprentices coordinate school and work-based learning under close supervision. However, they are so expensive that few American employers are willing to pay for them. In co-ops, sometimes thought of as cheap apprenticeships, students are released from some classes to work in positions that ideally offer more training than the average youth job. In practice, however, too many co-ops are young jobs on average with little training and few graduate opportunities. While apprenticeships increase a student’s earning potential, co-ops often do not, unless students can get a job at the same company that provides their co-op experience. These potentially useful programs could be improved through expansion, increased quality, better training, and better communication of a given student’s work readiness.

Improving student value signals

Unlike those in Germany and Japan, our high schools do not clearly demonstrate the readiness of graduates for college or work. Several policies could begin to address this problem. First, universities involved in technology preparation could adopt standardized college readiness tests. Long before graduation, these tests could clearly indicate academic quality to the students themselves, allowing time for safety plans. Second, high schools could provide employers with better signals of soft skills. Indeed, by reflecting attendance, discipline and motivation, grades already do this to some extent, and more signals of student qualities could be developed. Some high schools have already created employability classifications tailored to the needs of employers, and these schools have reported increased student motivation. More research is needed on the effects of these ratings. Third, secondary schools could establish more reliable working relationships, for example through vocational teachers, so that the most qualified students could be hired more easily. Employers report that these relationships help with recruiting and provide them with reliable information. However, connections between schools and employers are still rare; only 8% of seniors get jobs through school contacts, despite the obvious advantages. Hiring through contacts can limit the applicant pool, but large applicant pools don’t help employers if they can’t assess the quality of applicants. Selective recruitment is preferable to random recruitment. Teachers can build relationships through business experience, careful screening of applicants, and sincerity.

Employers and teachers should establish reciprocity because both parties value the relationship to meet mutual needs and not for extrinsic benefits, such as teachers pleasing administrators by placing weak students or companies improving public relations through extensive hiring cooperative When extrinsic benefits are central, teacher-employer relationships have little reason to develop. In such cases, sacrifices for reciprocity, such as better selection of students despite the demands of administrators and more intensive but less visible learning, could establish the trust needed to foster the relationship.


Unfortunately, current policies work against improving school-business contacts, as vocational programs and their well-connected teachers are being cut back in favor of college-for-all policies. To reverse this trend, vocational education should be expanded to high schools and community colleges. Teachers with good business contacts should be retained and rewarded for good practice in industry. Teachers and counselors should also be encouraged to give employers honest information about students and to be open with students about their abilities and opportunities. Such policies could encourage employers to view high schools as valuable sources of recruitment information. Other steps could include familiarizing counselors with non-college options and assessing students’ college and career skills more accurately and consistently. The conditions underlying these policies are present; the key is to make institutional actors aware of the importance of improving students’ employment opportunities.

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