Overcoming the High School Senior Slump: New Education Policies

Authored by Stanford education professor Michael W. Kirst, this 24-page report is the latest in the "Perspectives in Public Policy: Connecting High Education and the Public School" series, published by The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) and The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. Professor Kirst examines the economic and social costs of the high school "senior slump," during which many 12th graders view their final months prior to graduation (and sometimes their entire last year of high school) as an opportunity to goof off. This de-emphasis of academic work in high school has boosted rates of remediation in college; has worsened the drop-out rate among college students ill prepared for college-level work; and contributed to poor academic skills among high school graduates who move directly into the workforce or military. Highlighting various disjunctures between the K-12 and postsecondary education systems, Kirst lays the blame on both for failing to provide incentives for high school seniors to work hard. The report offers practical recommendations aimed at increasing coordination between the two sectors, including strengthening the high school curriculum and linking it to the requirements of the first year of college; recognizing various achievement levels on statewide K-12 assessments that meet college or university standards; improving college admissions and placement priorities; and assigning responsibilities for K-16 issues to a single entity in each state. As of the Gadfly's press time, this report was not yet available as a PDF file on the IEL website, www.iel.org, but it's expected there. Meanwhile, hard copies may be ordered from the Institute for Educational Leadership, 1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 310, Washington, D.C. 20036, or by calling (202) 822-8405, e-mailing iel@iel.org, or faxing (202) 872-4050. The report's cost is $15. You may also order it, and other IEL publications via the Online Ordering Form at www.iel.org/pubsframeset.html.