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Redefining High School as a Launch Pad

Abstract

The competitiveness of the U.S. economy in part depends on increasing the college-educated workforce, but too few low-income students are attending college.

It is with this reality in mind that Deloitte LLP CEO Barry Salzberg commissioned the 2009 Education Survey to explore attitudes among teachers, low-income parents and low-income students about college, student preparedness, and creating a college-going culture.

The results revealed a major disconnect on the role of high school and that the current education system does not do enough to encourage teachers and administrators to take a long-term view of student achievement.
When asked to identify the most important mission of high school, only nine percent of teachers chose preparing students for college. But low-income parents and students overwhelmingly rank preparing students for college as the most important purpose of high school.

With regard to long-term success, the results also show a gap between student aspiration and actual preparedness. While 70 percent of students indicated that they "definitely" plan to attend college, only 22 percent of students said their high school has done an "excellent" job in preparing them for college.

So what must be done? By redefining the mission of high school to become a launch pad rather than the last stop and instilling a college-going culture in our high schools, the U.S. can build a 21st Century workforce.

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