Four million ninth graders will start high school this fall. A new poll conducted by the Global Strategy Group examines generational impressions of high school, and suggests that many of them will be bored and unchallenged in school, and will leave unprepared for their financial futures.
Among Americans ages 18-29, just 43 percent said their high school experience was very positive and nearly three out of 10 said they did not receive a quality education. Of all age groups, 72 percent think our elected officials are not doing enough to address the problems facing the American education system.
Fortunately, an expanding national movement of activists and high schools focused on preparing students for success in college and life provides an antidote to dissatisfaction with high school and our nation's disappointing graduation and college-readiness rates.
In a survey released today of 1,000 adults nationwide, those ages 18-29 were most likely to believe that high school left them unprepared for the rigors of life and most likely to report that they are unsatisfied with their job or career, and current financial situation. The younger generation closest to their high school experiences expressed the highest levels of disappointment.
Half of adults under 30 (46 percent) say they were mostly bored in high school compared to 27 percent of boomers.
Half of adults under 30 (52 percent) say their classes were mostly easy; only 38 percent consider their coursework challenging. Conversely, 62 percent of boomers describe their high school curriculum as mostly challenging compared to 29 percent who would describe it as mostly easy.
Over half of those polled (55 percent) and two-thirds (68 percent) ages 18-29 failed to correctly calculate a 15 percent tip on a $120 bill.
"Back-to-school presents a prime opportunity to call on students and schools to begin their first days in school with a successful life after high school in mind," said Vicki Phillips, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's education initiative, which commissioned the poll. "Our most recent high school graduates are telling us they are disappointed with their education and feel unprepared for a successful life. We must do better by our students. Nearly 2,000 schools across the nation prove we can prepare all students for success in college and life."
Nearly 40 percent of adults surveyed under 30 were critical of the job their school did in preparing them to get a job that pays the bills after high school. This disappointment is in part a reflection of schools not keeping pace with the demands of current labor and market forces. Two-thirds of new jobs require higher education or some advanced training, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 70 percent of the 30 fastest growing jobs require some post-secondary education.
Despite evidence of low academic performance, there is reason for optimism. Over 70,000 Americans have visited www.edin08.com to encourage presidential candidates to demonstrate leadership in preparing American young people for the 21st century economy. This school year, more than 175 new and transformed high schools will open in 47 states and the District of Columbia, joining more than 1,800 high schools. This includes:
• 25 schools specializing in math, science, and technology education, including 16 new Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Academies that engage students in innovative science and math instruction including a required four years of both math and science. These schools also provide work-based learning through internships and a rigorous, well-rounded college-preparatory curriculum;
• 24 Early College High Schools where students, including many who have been labeled at-risk of failing, take college-level courses for both college and high school credit. Students - many of whom would be the first in their family to go to college - can graduate high school with a community college degree or its equivalent in credit toward a four-year degree;
• 24 new high schools will open in New York City, where graduation rates among transformed schools have increased dramatically. The 47 small schools in New York City that have opened since 2002 had an average graduation rate of 73 percent this past June, compared to 60 percent for the district as a whole in 2006. Thirty of these schools are located on the campuses of former low-performing high schools that had a collective graduation rate of just 35 percent in 2002. Many of these campuses have graduation rates more than twice their pre-conversion rates; for example, George W. Wingate High School went from a 29 percent graduation rate in 2002 to 82 percent in 2007.
• 28 new and redesigned schools generated through the partnership between the North Carolina New Schools Project and North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This includes nine learn and earn early college high schools, nine redesigned high schools across the state, and 10 science, technology, engineering and math high schools.
These new and transformed high schools are leading the way by showing that with the combination of student support, rigorous and inspiring coursework, and high expectations, more students can achieve at high levels, giving students a greater opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential. Since 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested more than $1.7 billion to redesign and reform high school education by creating a set of innovative education options.
The telephone survey was conducted by Global Strategy Group among 1,000 adults nationwide. The margin of error for this survey is ±3.1 percent on the overall sample.