Are American high school students prepared for the 21st Century?
Extensive research shows that today’s American high school students are not prepared for the challenges of the 21st Century. Evidence shows that high quality teaching can help students build the skills they need to succeed in high school and beyond.
- Statistics show that more than eight million students in grades 4-12 read below grade level. (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005)
- High school students’ ability to read complex texts is strongly predictive of their performance in college courses. (ACT, 2006)
- The twenty-five most emerging professions have greater than average literacy demands, while the fastest-declining professions have lower than average literacy demands. (Barton, 2000)
- Nearly forty percent of high school graduates lack the literacy skills employers seek. (Achieve, 2005).
- Approximately 1.2 million students fail to graduate from high school each year (Education Week, 2006).
- Dropouts from the class of 2004 will cost the United States more than $325 billion in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetimes (Rouse, 2005).
- About 75 percent of state prison inmates dropped out from high school (Harlow 2003). A five percent increase in male high school graduation rates would save the nation almost $5 billion in costs associated with incarceration (Lochner and Moretti, 2001; Alliance for Excellent Education, 2006).
- The most effective teachers generate an increase in student achievement almost four times greater than least effective teachers. (Haycock, 1998).
- Teaching skills that lead to student learning are verbal ability, subject content knowledge, and utilizing good teaching methods. (Leigh & Mead, 2005). High school teachers must also know how to teach literacy strategies, adapt their instruction for English language learners, and collaborate with fellow teachers on student work.
- Teachers need 3 to 7 years to advance their skills to consistently improve student achievement (Claycomb & Hawley, 2000; Lopez, 1995). Almost half of all new teachers leave the profession within five years, and as many others transfer to a different school – costing the United States $5.5 billion a year (Ingersoll, 2003; Alliance, 2005).
- Teachers who participate in good professional development improve teaching skills which can lead to increased student achievement. Quality professional development is ongoing, long term, focused on subject matter, and requires adults to be active learners (Garet, 2001).
- Research indicates that 85% of teachers who receive ongoing support from instructional coaches implement newly learned instructional methods, a factor that enhances teacher quality. Teachers who do not receive such support implement newly learned strategies at only a rate of 10% (University of Kansas, Center for Research on Learning).
PAHSCI’s instructional coaching model provides support to enhance teacher quality with: meaningful professional development tied to standards, curriculum, research, and best practices; follow-up support to effectively implement new learning; and scaffolding that encourages reflective practices and instruction.
Alliance for Excellent Education, Adolescent Literacy Fact Sheet, February 2006,
Alliance for Excellent Education, Finding and Keeping the Teachers We Need, February 2006
Alliance for Excellent Education, Graduation Rates, Fact Sheet, August 2006,