With a national drop out rate of at least 18%, with 33% of high school graduates not continuing their education after high school, with high school senior classes exiting with aggregate GPA's well below 2.0, and with over 60% of entering college freshmen being required to take remedial courses in Reading or Math before they are granted enrollment in college level classes, we must face the disturbing fact that our K-12 public education system is failing to meet its stated goals for over 70% of the students it serves.
Students don't just suddenly fail; they don't just suddenly drop out. In most cases, their cumulative records show patterns of failure and under-achievement through years of enrollment.
The last three decades have been filled with innovative interventions for low achieving students, and "failing schools," but ultimately, only two options have persisted through years of debate: Retention & Social Promotion.
Though the debate continues over retention vs. social promotion, researchers working on both sides of the issue have agreed that neither option results in higher achievement. We understand the relationship between retention and dropouts: most dropouts have been retained one or more times. We also know that most dropouts who have not been retained have been subject to social promotion.
Every innovation or intervention program in use today has been around for years and has appeared in multiple times and places over the last 30 years. None of these innovations have turned the tide in American Education. They have been implemented, had some minimal effect, and then have fallen out of fashion as the next "solution" comes along.
These programs are expensive, and they are extremely difficult to administrate effectively because they add heavy loads on the already over-burdened human resources of the school.
This all begs the question: If neither retention or social promotion work, and if student achievement has been spiraling downward over the last 40 years in spite of all of the intervention programs that have been tried, then isn't this indicative of a major systemic problem? Doesn't this suggest that after years of trying to fix the system, it might be time to consider changing the system?
We insist that the time has come for a dramatic change in how we do things in our public schools. We believe that real change requires real change. We believe that it's time to Educate For A Change.
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