Are teachers really serving their students well?

This week, Deloitte LLP released a report based on its national educational survey asking 401 teachers what they thought was their primary mission. Deloitte then asked 601 lower-income students what they thought was the most important purpose of high school. The report suggests that there is a major disconnect between what students want out of high school and what teachers focus on.

Only 9 percent of the teachers thought it was their mission to prepare students for college (only 10 percent felt it was their mission to ensure students graduate from high school), while 48 percent of the students felt that high school should prepare them for college. Critics of the survey say that the way the questions were worded may have skewed the results. Nevertheless, it does bring up the question: What is high school for?

Of course I don’t have a succinct answer, but much of what I’ve read suggests that students’ academic achievement should be the core mission of schools. If students are academically “fit” then they will be ready for both college and the workforce.

How, then, can schools achieve this mission? The Center’s Good Measures for Good Schools (Good Measures) helps schools and districts look at a variety of areas that serve as good measures of how well schools are serving their students. For example, two areas that Good Measures helps schools explore are student attainment and staffing by asking these questions: Do all students have access to rigorous courses? Are teachers qualified to help the students they are responsible for?

It’s rather disturbing to think that teachers and students aren’t on the same page when it comes to the purpose of high school. Of course Hollywood movies would have us believe that high school is the social mecca for kids and learning is an aside. But we live in the real world, not the world of Hollywood movies. We, the adults who guide these kids, have to get it right so students can gain the most from their high school years.  — Pamela Karwasinski

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