Interesting report by ETS’ Paul Barton (pdf) adding some data to the ongoing debate about the college prep curriculum for all. Worth reading but for skimmers here’s the gist:
This analysis does not find support for the proposition that those not going to college need to be qualified to enter college credit courses in order to enter the workforce. It does, however, find a strong case for advancing the academic skills of a high proportion of those high school graduates if they are to compete successfully for the higher-paying jobs available to those without a college degree, and advance in such jobs. Beyond what employers are specifically looking for in job applicants, other important benefits are attached to higher levels of educational attainment.
Also worth considering is the issue of who chooses the curriculum. The sorting of poor and minority kids into lower tracks is well established and regardless of workforce implications, a common and more rigorous curriculum has equity benefits.
Related is this new report from WestEd about high school – college and K-16 alignment. Good overview.