"In 1950, 80 percent of jobs were classified as 'unskilled.' Now, an estimated 85 percent of jobs are classified as 'skilled,' requiring education beyond high school." Are today's students ready? Not according to the American Council on Education, which concluded, "60 percent of future jobs will require training that only 20 percent of today's workers possess."
This was just one of the sobering findings reported in ACT's "Crisis at the Core: Preparing All Students for College and Work." Other key findings include:
- Only 22 percent of the 1.2 million high school graduates who took the ACT assessment in 2004 achieved scores indicating they're ready for college level coursework in English, math, and science.
- Results from ACT's assessments for eighth and tenth graders indicate that students who graduate from high school in 2006 and 2008 will be no better prepared for college than this year's graduates.
ACT chief executive officer Richard L. Ferguson summed up by saying, "Our nation simply can't afford to keep producing high school graduates who are ill-prepared to succeed in college and the workforce if we want to maintain our economic competitiveness throughout the world."
Global competitiveness begins at home with our neighborhood schools. As recommended in the Goldwater Institute survey of private schools, Arizona policymakers should fully use private schools by expanding the existing individual tuition tax credit scholarship program, adopting a corporate tuition tax credit scholarship program, implementing a K-12 education grant program, and allowing parents to control their children's education dollars through tax-exempt education savings accounts. Not only would such policies help the thousands of children currently on waiting lists for scholarships, they would benefit public school students by introducing greater competition, inducing their schools to adopt more rigorous academic programs.