Arne Duncan likes to brag that the high-school graduation rate edged upward to 82 percent during his tenure, but what he doesn’t say is that student achievement has simultaneously declined according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress. This test confirms that most of today’s high-school graduates simply haven’t learned what Americans expect high-school students to know, nor have they acquired the basic skills they need to support themselves and future families.
The value of a high-school diploma, measured by the earning power of graduates, continues to decline. Our free-trade economy is creating fewer jobs that require only a high-school diploma. Students who graduate from high school today are much worse off economically than high-school graduates of one, two, or three generations ago.
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