Schools Cram for Tests, Not the Future: Study

School management scores
Green=B, Yellow=C, Orange=D, Red=F

School performance shouldn't be handed out based solely on kids' test scores, according to "Laggards and Leaders," an annual report that was started two years ago by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Center for American Progress, and Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute.

Meant as a reality check on federally funded programs like No Child Left Behind, the report ranks states not only on how well their educational systems are performing today but asks forward-looking questions such as: Do they invest in new tech? Jettison ineffective teachers quickly? Experiment with financing non-traditional programs to help develop career paths beyond the usual matriculation model?

The CliffsNotes version of the study: We are all mostly C and D students.

Among the nation's 100,000 schools in 14,000 districts, about a third of high schoolers don't graduate on time. And about a third of the freshman that actually make it to college still need to take remedial English or math. For extra credit, check out the state-by-state assessments linked above. As you can see from the image, Laggards and Leaders has issued the findings both as a categorical report card based on their new syllabus—one that praises individual attention and leadership initiatives like KIPP schools—and as a handy comparative map.

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