Five Challenges for Every Candidate
In his Wise Words video on August 25, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, outlined five things that every candidate could do to ensure that our students are prepared for college or the modern workplace. More detail on each item Wise mentioned is listed below.
1. Strengthen federal policy and strategically target funding to improve outcomes for all of America's students
Currently, middle and high schools receive only a fraction of the federal funding (for a combined total of about $5 billion) that is invested in education, compared to what goes to early childhood education (almost $18 billion) and college (almost $17 billion). We must make targeted, strategic investments to ensure that high schools receive the attention they so desperately need.
2. Improve reading and comprehension instruction for middle and high school students
Conventional wisdom holds that by the time students reach high school, they have a solid foundation. Yet 70% of eighth graders can't read at grade level, which makes it almost impossible for them to do well in their high school history, science and other classes.
3. Encourage states to adopt a set of voluntary common standards that are benchmarked internationally so that all of our students receive a world-class education
Nearly every U.S. state has a different level of expectations for its students, but there is no consistency and few have set standards high enough to be competitive in a world where other countries' kids are performing so much better. We need to update an antiquated school system to meet the demands of the 21st century.
4. Ensure that educators have the support and training they need
To achieve good results, schools need good leaders and effective teachers-- yet almost half of all new teachers leave the profession within five years. We must improve recruiting and retention programs; create better working conditions; and provide mentoring, professional development and common planning time for our educators.
5. Develop uniform and accurate methods for measuring graduation rates and create data tracking systems to monitor students' progress
Because states are allowed to calculate and report graduation rates in several different ways, school districts can set a low bar for improving on the number of students who graduate. We need to standardize how graduation rates are measured, and implement highly sophisticated data systems so we can follow a child at every stage, respond quickly to the early warning indicators and implement the interventions that are necessary.