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clearer to students. They should
understand that taking senior-year
math and writing courses enhances
placement scores, and results in less
costly remediation.
• If a university has a math
requirement for graduation from its
campus, then require a linked high
school senior-year math course with
a certain minimum standard. Many
states require only two years of college-
prep math.
• University reports about
remediation and freshman performance of students from
specific high schools should be publicized widely in mass
media, and considered by local school boards for policy
implications.
• Encourage high school accreditation by state
governments and private groups to focus upon the academic
rigor of the senior year. Accreditation should focus more
directly on postsecondary preparation.
• Review high school policies granting course credit for
work experience that has no strong academic components.
Much of the senior year for many students is spent working
with no academic link.
Conclusion
All of these policy mechanisms and recommendations
to improve the senior year require leadership and
motivation. It is unclear how this will evolve, given the
long U.S. tradition of K–16 disjuncture. Perhaps the
stimulus will come from rising public concern about
postsecondary remediation. But the senior slump has been
around so long that it has become part of American high
school culture.
The senior-year issue must receive more public attention
and concern before K–16 policy communities will be
mobilized to act. Given the huge gap in postsecondary
attainment between high- and low-income students
(particularly for Hispanics and African Americans), this is
an urgent issue of equity as well as quality education.
u
Michael W. Kirst is a professor emeritus of education at
Stanford University.
There is no plan in
the U.S. to relate the
content and experience
of the last two years in
high school to the first
two years of college.