The American education system is experiencing a national crisis.
While much of the world has already been radically impacted by technology and design thinking, American high schools have barely changed at all. Once first in the world in high school completion rates, the US is now 23rd. While 80% of high school seniors receive a diploma, less than half of those are able to proficiently read or complete math problems. Over the past 40 years, despite billions of dollars invested in school reform, there has been no measurable improvement in the academic proficiency of American high school students. Reading and math scores have remained flat among 17-year-olds, as have scores in science, history, writing, and geography.
Compared to India and China, American high school students are in school 25 to 30% less. Meanwhile, investments in education have continually dropped. 34 states are contributing less funding per student this year than prior to the 2008 recession. Given that states are responsible for 44% of total education funding in the U.S., less funding has contributed to increased school closings, and in turn, frequent overcrowding.
An even bigger problem is threatening to handicap the U.S. behind most developing countries: little to no consideration is given to help students make the connection between tests and curriculum, and actual careers. Most high schools don’t provide practical classes to prepare students for life as adults, such as how to pay taxes, register to vote, get a loan, or manage a bank account. For the nearly 95% of 9th graders that report they plan to go to college, less than half are ready for college by the time they graduate. According to the largest standardized test in the United States, fewer than 40% of graduating seniors have mastered reading and math, and are poorly equipped for college. Additionally, 44% of graduating high school seniors report that they haven’t identified a career yet. The clock is ticking for our education system to provide students with tools and programs that truly prepare them for success in the real world.