With a $1 million grant from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, four New England states are forming a regional partnership to redefine the traditional concept of high school so that U.S. students are competitive with their peers worldwide.
The New England Secondary School Consortium has set five goals:
- increase the graduation rate to 90%;
- decrease the drop-out rate to less than one percent;
- increase the percentage of students who in enroll in a two- or four-year college to 80%;
- reduce the need for college developmental/remedial courses to 5%;
- and ensure that more students who enter college graduate from college.
High schools need to break away from the educational conventions of desk bound students, says an announcement about the initiative from the Consortium. High school students should not be in their classrooms all day, but out conducting research in their communities, acquiring real-world skills through internships, taking online and on-campus college courses and using new technologies and other learning opportunities. Today, students who are not college-bound need the same skills as students who do plan to go to college.
“New England students are part of a global community that has redefined the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that students need, and this work will identify the characteristics of effective education in the 21st century and apply these lessons to the creation of new models of teaching, learning, and leading,” according to a press release on the initiative.
The Consortium will examine state learning standards, teaching strategies, assessment practices, professional-development programs, and student outcomes compared to the highest-performing international educational systems. It will help to build in-state educational networks that connect state agencies, organizations, post-secondary institutions, districts, and schools. The Consortium will also collaborate with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the New England Board of Higher Education to bring greater coordination and alignment with best practices and common expectations across the region.