ERIC Number: ED467037
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002-Apr
What Ails U.S. High Schools? How Should They Be Reformed? Is There a Federal Role?
Finn, Chester E., Jr.
This paper examines some of the difficulties faced by high schools in the United States. It outlines seven elements underlying the problems: mission confusion, the need for remediation, too large a scale, pupil motivation, obsolete notions of teaching and learning, the failure to stay abreast of issues confronting today's youth, and the proliferation of rival providers. The paper provides an overview of failed reforms, as measured by unacceptably low SAT averages and poor results in international test comparisons. It claims that high schools are a stepchild of federal policy, largely ignored because Washington focuses its attention on the early/middle grades and colleges. Although some worthy efforts for revitalizing schools are under way, such as Oregon's certificate of mastery program, the lack of a common theme hinders most initiatives. Stakeholders must ask what they want from secondary education. If it is agreed that education must impart skills and knowledge, equip students to take their places as citizens with knowledge of their government and history, then everyone must look to fill these goals. Rather than scaling back expectations, stakeholders should strengthen the high school's academic mission, give 12th-graders standardized tests that reflect knowledge attainment, make high school more engaging, leave no child behind, and promote school choice. (RJM)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Attitude Change, Change Strategies, Educational Change, Government Role, Government School Relationship, High Schools
For full text: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OVAE/HS/commisspap.html.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Vocational and Adult Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at "Preparing America's Future: The High School Symposium" (Washington, DC, April 4, 2002).