Here’s a startling statistic: did you know that every year in the United States over 1.2 million students drop out of high school? That’s one student every 26 seconds – or 7,000 a day. Maybe you don’t have a child in high school, or your kids have graduated, but this statistic has meaning for all of us. It means we’re losing the potential that lies in each one of those students—many of whom could go on to make a significant contribution to our national community. In other words, this statistic is not just a number, it’s a national tragedy:
These are the next generation of Americans—who could become leaders in any number of fields—teachers, doctors, lawyers, administrators, fathers, engineers, who can make contributions in their own ways to the country and the world. But mostly fall off the map because they didn’t complete their high school education.
A lot of what’s behind this statistic is test stress. Students, particularly those less advantaged, can’t make cut on tests. Tests are simply too stressful. American education has been a history of reform—most recently, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now the Common Core standards. But the foundation of very reform has been test scores—teachers salaries rise and fall, school budgets swell or get cut, all because of test scores. Everyone is looking at test scores. Very carefully. The pressure is really great
There have been court cases of teachers and administrators faking test results, and last April a principal in NY committed suicide after she admitted forging answers on her 3rd graders English tests. After 40 years as a teacher I can tell you definitively that test stress is hurting everyone—our students, teachers, parents and our nation.
And that high drop out statistic is, in my view, in large part because those students are not passing tests. It’s not because they don’t have the smarts, it’s not because they don’t have the potential, it’s because our educational system is not offering them the platform they need to to succeed.
Joining the conversation today is Steve Hope, who is the principal of Penn High School in Mishawaga, Indiana. Steve attended a workshop I gave in San Franis at the Learning and the Brain Conference – the workshop was on “Educating for Creative Minds.” Steve liked the workshop and the next thing I know my book, “A Teen’s Guide to Success” was chosen as a key text for the Early College Academy at Penn High School. Listen to how they reverse the national statistic and keep students in school. For more information on me— Dr. B– please visit my website.