For more than 25 years, national attention has focused on improving the supposed sad state of education and workforce preparation in America. The initial stated intention was to ensure equal learning opportunities for students, professionalize teaching, raise standards, and produce a pre-eminent “world class” educational system. Concerted efforts that brought attention to an apparent overall national educational decline really began with the 1983 release of A Nation at Risk. International achievement data from the Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) as well as our own data showed the US as ranking #1 internationally in both academic achievement and college graduates into throughout 1980’s. Some observers reading the “A Nation at Risk” report could be excused for believing that the decline and fall or our educational system began with the advent of school integration with racial minorities, the disabled, women, and limited English proficiency students. When reading these reports today, one is able to see that the seeds of private school vouchers, tuition tax credits, school choice/free market solutions vis-à-vis Charter Management Organizations and the obsession with student achievement equated with exit exams/high stakes testing were all firmly planted
Despite numerous blue-ribbon task forces and resulting legislation (GOALS 2000: Educate America Act of 1994, PL 103-227, etc.), research efforts (National Longitudinal Transition Study I & II), and public/private funding dedicated to investigating methods to improve the workplace literacy of the US workforce (National Adult Literacy Survey, 1993), recommendations for creating a tighter linkage between instructional methods, outcomes that accurately reflect instruction, and their application to workplace situations have been largely ignored. American business and the corporate communities response to the notion that the US was losing ground internationally because of poorly or inadequately prepared youth was first reported in 1990 by the Commission on Skills of the American Workforce report America’s Choice: high skills or low wages! The US Department of Labor and leading corporate, business, and civic leaders collaborated on the Secretaries Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS), published in 1992, a series of in-depth reports targeting what the workplace of the future would need of schools and their graduates as well as how to instruct/assess to these standards. In addition to traditional content mastery, SCANS called for the radical ...
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