December 2, 2011
In 2010, the President set a goal for the U.S. to become the global leader in postsecondary degree attainment by the year 2020. Yet, more than 7,000 students, many of whom are not proficient in reading and math, are leaving or being pushed out of U.S. schools each day. A new study commissioned by the Schott Foundation for Public Education shows that the U.S. cannot achieve the President’s 2020 goal if our schools continue to hemorrhage large segments of our nation’s youth.
Findings from this report indicate that the United States will need to increase its high school graduation rate by 17.5 percentage points in order to reach the 2020 goal. An additional 2.9 million 9‐12th graders are projected between now and 2020 due to population growth, and the U.S. will need an additional 5.7 million enrollments to retain enough students to meet the high school graduation goal.
These projections underscore why we must adopt comprehensive and aggressive measures to recover students who have quit or been pushed out, restore students who have been left behind, provide broader access to the components that work and modernize schools to meet the demands of 21st century learning.
Accordingly, this document is designed to serve as a blueprint for implementing a comprehensive package of policy reforms that seek to increase the quantity of students who succeed at every stage of the educational pipeline and the quality of the education they receive. Different from most calls for reform, it considers the educational pipeline in its entirety—from early childhood through postsecondary attainment—and offers evidence‐informed strategies to boost access, quantity and quality at every stage.
This blueprint also serves as a how‐to guide for policymakers, school officials, education advocates, and business and community leaders who want to advance policy changes that will unleash the power and potential of our nation’s youth; a fundamental component of America’s economic engine and its most precious resource.
The prescriptions include implementing a compulsory system of universal pre‐K to grow a robust pipeline that will allow the U.S. to stay on its postsecondary trajectory once attained. That includes strengthening academic and social supports at every stage of the educational pipeline, ensuring equal access to the human and material resources needed to develop and sustain a serious culture of learning, creating multiple pathways for post‐secondary attainment and aligning each stage in the educational pipeline with the next placing a deliberate focus on postsecondary attainment.
In light of the limitations of the current U.S. educational system, a plan to achieve the 2020 goal MUST be powerful and broad enough to give all students an opportunity to learn. This blueprint seeks to provide key stakeholders with an understanding of what it will take to turn our nation’s educational descent into ascent. We cannot wait. It’s opportunity time!