MDRC in the News

Education Needs a Real National Focus. Here’s How That Can Happen



In the last two decades we have witnessed improvement in high school graduation rates, and even with the controversy over the Common Core, most states have implemented higher academic standards. There has been some progress, just not nearly enough especially given the fact that skills required in the workforce continue to increase. And yet, in the shadow of Covid and stronger demands in the workplace for higher education and skill levels, the bar continues to be raised significantly. Many believe our nation’s schools need now more than ever a real national focus. A national education summit meeting could provide it…..

…..Why is this urgent now? It isn’t one issue, but a convergence of many. Covid has caused a disruption in the upward tilt of high school graduation rates and resulted in a decline in college enrollment rates. The population most in decline is low-income students and those of color. Meanwhile, the solutions are becoming more difficult. We are witnessing a dip in both teacher recruitment and teacher retention rates, along with a dip in student achievement levels in a host of grade and curriculum areas…..

…..A national summit can address the challenge of high school graduation rates coupled with college enrollment and completion levels connected to career success. It can focus on successful efforts to break down the barriers that a siloed education system has created and  provide a clear and effective pathway approach, integrating all key education elements. The P-Tech program is one example. An independent evaluation released recently provided by MDRC, a nationally recognized educational research organization, demonstrated that a P-Tech’s approach to breaking down the silos between K-12, higher education, and industry, resulted in a staggering 30% increase in the number of students likely to enroll in college by the end of four years of high school. The high schoolers were better prepared because they had accumulated significant amounts of college credits while still on the high school register. The students were also more likely to take and pass higher levels of statewide exams. The findings were particularly significant, according to MDRC, because the students in these programs were largely low-income and students of color…..

…..At a national education summit, America’s political, civic, business, and education leadership, along with students, community organizations, and those on the front lines, can come together to review the data, the examples of success, and the specific policy changes needed to bring such changes to scale. They can lay out specific commitments to achieve the changes that would bring about improvement along with a road map to achieve longer-term success.

What could result? Funding incentives at both the state and federal levels could expand markedly. Federal and state departments of commerce, economic development, and labor also need to be involved, to allow existing funding streams to be focused on pathways…..

Full Article