High School Reform
High school reform refers to a concentrated effort on the part of the government to address the growing problems of low achievement and high dropout rates.These issues are especially prevalent in inner-city high schools as well as rural schools in certain areas of the country. Components of high school reform include proposed initiatives to improve learning environments, help students with academic deficiencies, increase the quality of material taught in the classroom, alleviate overcrowding and strained resources in schools, and prepare students with the skills needed for self-sufficiency after high school.
The need for restructuring of the typical classroom environment has become apparent in recent years due to high percentages of students who graduate from high school without basic skills, particularly in reading, writing, and mathematics. Such students are not prepared to enter either the workforce or college. Studies have shown that this problem can be successfully reduced through increasing high school academic standards. Through this component of high school reform, teachers are being asked to present more rigorous coursework as well as raise their expectations for what constitutes acceptable student performance.
Large percentages of high school graduates who enter a higher education setting require remedial coursework. Another main reform initiative is to shift the bulk of remediation to the high school. Extra courses, tutoring, and other similar intervention measures have been proposed as solutions for students with deficiencies. Such extra help can allow them to catch up to the point where they are able to complete a high school curriculum that will prepare them to be successful after graduation.
Overcrowded classrooms present one of the biggest challenges to high school reform. Schools with this problem are disproportionately in low-income areas. One of the more often-suggested solutions is the implementation of charter schools with smaller student-to-teacher ratios, though this has been met with mixed results. The growth of career academies indicates the acknowledgment that many students are better suited to the option of going straight into work rather than college after high school graduation. These specialized high schools equip such students with the skills for decent-paying jobs without the need for a college degree.