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December 22, 2009 2:18 PM High School Now Officially Preparation for College

By Daniel Luzer

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , there will be some $100 billion in new money for public elementary and high schools. Something else will change too. As J. B. Schramm and E. Kinney Zalesne of College Summit point out in an op-ed they wrote in the New York Times:

But the real revolution, tucked away in the Race to the Top guidelines released by the Department of Education last month, is that high school has a new mission. No longer is it enough just to graduate students, or even prepare them for college. Schools must now show how they increase both college enrollment and the number of students who complete at least a year of college. In other words, high schools must now focus on grade 13.

That’s right. The point of high school is now to prepare kids for college. Or rather, the success of high school is demonstrated by college attendance and accomplishment.

This means a huge shift in terms of data collection; at this point it’s really very hard tract students from individual high schools once they get their high school diplomas. According to the article, “Race to the Top has finally established a realistic purpose for high school in the 21st century.” This may be premature, but it will be interesting to see where this new measure of high school takes the country. There is, at any rate, no going back now.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer