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Volume 20, Number 4
July/August 2004

Rethinking High School and Beyond

A European-style proposal for strengthening the transition to work or higher education


High school is the Waterloo of the current round of school reform. There are many signs that the standards and accountability movement is having a substantial effect on the performance of elementary schools, even those that have a history of poor performance. And there are grounds for hope that real progress will be made in the middle schools. But high schools are another matter. Virtually everyone familiar with this landscape believes that our high schools are the most deeply troubled and most difficult institutions to change.

In any cohort of ninth graders, only 25 percent will go on to earn some sort of postsecondary degree. More and more, a young person who leaves high school unable to earn at least a two-year college degree faces a life of constant economic struggle. This can only be considered a growing national disaster.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


Also by this Author

    For Further Information

    For Further Information

    Danish Vocational Education System, Danish Ministry of Education.

    Education at a Glance: OECD Indicators—2003 Edition. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD Washington Center, 2001 L St., NW, Suite 650, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-6323.

    International Baccalaureate Organization North America, 475 Riverside Dr., 16th Fl., New York, NY 10115; 212-696-4464.

    M. Tucker. “High School and Beyond: The System Is the Problem—and the Solution.” National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). Available online at