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Report: High Schools Should Prepare for Trades

By Greg McDonald   |   Thursday, 08 Sep 2011 11:00 AM

High Schools are under fire for not doing enough to prepare students for college, but a new report recommends that they should actually do more to direct students toward technical and trades careers.
The report from Education Testing Service (ETS), one of the leading student testing companies in the country, says that educators and policy makers need to assess all of “the issues affecting students, society, and the economy” as the prepare kids for life after high school graduation.
College might be the right path for some, but for others a local technical or vocational school may be the better choice, according to report authors Paul E. Barton and Richard J. Coley.
In their report for ETS, “The Mission of the High School: A New Consensus of the Purposes of Public Education,” the two challenge the current movement to ensure that that all students receive the same preparation for college and career readiness.
They point out that many jobs available today don’t require a college degree and that pursuing a technical education program can be more effective in the long run for many students.
The report also notes that most high schools these days don’t have enough guidance counselors or programs to keep students on track and that many schools fail when it comes to teaching the skills needed in today’s economy.
The authors also highlight the fact that schools aren’t doing enough to address high dropout rates, a problem that could be solved in some cases by encouraging students to pursue different career paths. 
“This report is not intended to present a case for or against this new high school reform movement, but to suggest that redefining and redirecting the public education system is a hugely important task that merits deep thought and much examination given its importance to society, democracy, and our economy,” said Coley, director of ETS’ policy information center.  

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