The Good News in Education

In a sea of bad news, Dick Startz, writing for the Brown Center Chalkboard at Brookings, reflects on the good news in American education:

Graduation rates are up

Over the last fifteen years, high school graduation rates have risen. The vast majority of adults have a high school diploma. White, Black, and Hispanic graduation rates have all moved up (and notably, the increases have been larger among minorities, which has slightly narrowed gaps).

College completion is up

Over the last fifteen years, a noticeably increased portion of the adult population has earned a college degree. This is true among adults of all races, though it’s not clear gaps have made any progress during this time.

Associate degrees, too

There’s a tendency to focus on degree completion at the high school and college level. Community colleges and associate degrees matter too, and they are also up. If you’re wondering, the numbers have also risen for all racial and ethnic groups.

Schools are safer

Violence against students is way, way down from the 1990s and seems to be continuing to slowly decline. Keeping our kids safe at school is surely something to celebrate.

School is also a less scary place than it once was—The percentage of students age 12-18 who report being afraid of attack at school showed reductions of more than 50 percent for both males and females.

Sobering news

Alcohol use among high school students is declining.

Public perception has improved

Perhaps the most telling good news comes from the upward trend in the EdNext/PEPG poll in which the public is asked to grade schools. For their own local schools, presumably the ones the public knows best, a majority now assign a grade of A or B. We can’t pin down what exactly is making the public more satisfied, but things appear to be moving in the right direction.

And the best news of all?

Our schools are filled with a great many very good teachers and very many great teachers (and principals and staff and so many parent volunteers too).

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