Achieve.org has published a report entitled Closing the Expectations Gap 2006 (.pdf) that provides an excellent state-by-state analysis of the gap between what high schools expect and what colleges and employers demand.
The report found that
Too many students drop out of the education pipeline, leaving high school without earning a diploma, failing to enroll in college or a postsecondary training program, or never earning a postsecondary. A disturbingly high number of U.S. high school students — some 30 percent nationally —never even graduate. For black and Latino students, those dropout rates rise to 50 percent. Without at least a high school diploma, their prospects for meaningful employment are slim and getting slimmer. Even if they do earn a diploma and enroll in college or enter the workforce, many high school graduates lack the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed.
The U.S. economy can no longer absorb employees with inadequate educations into low-skill jobs, as it has in past decades. Those jobs no longer exist or are fast disappearing. Jobs that pay well and support a middle-class lifestyle require higher-level mathematics and communications skills than ever before. Even those students who attain a high school diploma will have a hard time achieving career success without college experience or postsecondary training. At least some postsecondary education is needed for about 67 percent of new jobs in today’s market, and that percentage is expected to rise in coming years. If workers cannot meet the demand, highly skilled jobs will go to other countries such as India and China — a move that will diminish U.S. competitiveness and affect the living standards of millions of citizens.
The report also contains some sobering statistics. In the United States today, out of every 100 9th graders:
- 68 graduate from high school on time
- 40 immediately enroll in college
- 27 are still enrolled in their sophomore year
- and only 18 graduate from college on time.
In Texas, the numbers are below the national average. For every 100 Texas 9th graders:
- 64 graduate from high school on time
- 35 immediately enroll in college
- 22 are still enrolled in their sophomore year
- and only 13 graduate from college on time.