ERIC Number: ED451301
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2001-Apr-4
The New Definition of Standards in American Education. Backgrounder No. 1427.
The infusion of workforce education into K-12 education may be detrimental to American students. American schools should not emphasize practical skills at the expense of academic skills. Academic standards should focus on academic content, not workplace competencies. The major impetus for transforming academic standards came in the 1990s when the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) was convened. SCANS published a report identifying skills required in 21st century high-performance worksites. The report recommended integrating workplace competencies into core academic subjects. In 1994, Congress passed the School-to-Work Opportunities Act (STWOA) to address American education's failure to graduate people with marketable knowledge and skills. The STWOA embodied the central tenets of the school-to-work (STW) philosophy. To varying degrees, all 50 states have implemented STW. This report examines the problem with SCANS, noting the detrimental impact on students' basic academic education of integrating academic and vocational education. It discusses problems with STW and contextual learning, then examines work-based competencies in practice. After describing the Workforce Investment Act, it discusses a better approach to standards, concluding that retreating from teaching proficiency in academic areas deprives America's youth of true critical thinking skills and reasoned judgement. (SM)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Academic Standards, Basic Skills, Education Work Relationship, Educational Quality, Elementary Secondary Education, Noncollege Bound Students, Vocational Education
Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, DC 20002-4999. Tel: 202-546-4400. For full text: http://www.heritage.org.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC. Thomas A. Roe Inst. for Economic Policy Studies.