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Last Updated: 02/01/2018

 Article of Interest - Education

6 million kids at risk of failing in school
Advocacy group wants more literacy programs for 'dead-end' students
By Fredreka Schouten / Gannett News Service / Detroit News / September 24, 2002
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Nearly 6 million middle and high school students perform so poorly in school that they are likely to drop out or become trapped in dead-end jobs -- a circumstance that puts the nation's productivity at risk, according to a report out Monday.

One in four high school students read at "below basic" levels, and more than one in four eighth-graders fail to graduate on time from high school, said the report from the Alliance for Excellent Education, an advocacy and research group that focuses on improving secondary education.

To address what it calls a "growing academic crisis," the alliance wants Congress to expand literacy programs to teens and give a $4,000 annual income-tax credit to teachers and principals who work in schools that serve poor kids.

The report comes as the nation's schools focus on putting in place President Bush's No Child Left Behind law, which requires annual testing in reading and math in grades three through eight and once in high school.
Districts focus on younger children, the alliance said, and only 15 percent of federal money to help poor children goes to low-performing secondary students.

"Students who drop out or fail to advance to college have significantly lower annual and lifetime incomes than those who stay in school and earn higher degrees," said Richard Riley, an advisory board member and education secretary during the Clinton administration.

The group said college grad jobs will grow by about 25 percent by 2008, but high school graduate jobs will grow by just 9 percent.

Substandard math and science skills among high school graduates have long troubled education policy experts and business executives. Increasingly, U.S. companies have turned to talent from abroad.

The alliance also recommends:

* Creating a literacy program to train teachers in all subjects to improve reading and writing skills of middle and high school students at high-poverty schools.

* Supplying up to $20,000 in grants to college juniors with a 3.4 grade-point average in their major and who agree to teach in schools with serious staffing problems.

* Forgive up to $17,500 in college loans for highly qualified teachers who agree to teach for four years in understaffed schools.


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