October 5, 2007
Push to Revamp High Schools Off Track, Scholars Say
Overemphasis seen on ratcheting up standards at expense of broader view of academic ‘rigor.’
By Erik W. Robelen /Edweek.org
In a new paper [pdf] arguing that the ongoing national push to dramatically improve American high schools has gotten off course, two University of California education professors take aim at what they see as an overemphasis on states' adoption of higher standards for graduation and more-rigorous tests.
“The push to enhance rigor and standards behind the high school diploma is seriously flawed,” write W. Norton Grubb, an education professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Jeannie Oakes, an education professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the paper. “Any gains come at the expense of other goals for high school reform, including equity, curricular relevance, and student interest.”
The paper argues that discussions of “rigor” too often use a narrow definition that neglects higher-order-thinking skills, applications of learning in unfamiliar settings, and academic depth in favor of breadth.
And many proponents of higher standards and rigorous tests, the authors contend, have little to say about how their imposition will enhance student performance generally. The authors say many urban high schools simply lack the capacity to meet the standards.
Vol. 27, Issue 07, Page 12