Technology and business practices are constantly evolving. School curriculum will never be able to keep pace with technology and business practices. Rather than focus on the ever-changing world of technology and business, schools should focus on giving students the tools they need to compete in the workforce. An alarming number of high school graduates are not ready to enter college or the workforce; this is evidenced by the fact that many students have to take remedial courses upon entering college.
What can be done to remedy this? Academic standards should be raised for students graduating from high school. The American College Testing Program, Inc., (ACT) suggests that students should take a core group of courses to prepare students for life after high school. ACT doesn’t stop at recommending that students just take core classes, they give specific examples. Students should take “…certain specific courses—such as biology, chemistry, physics, and upper-level mathematics courses beyond Algebra II”. Even though not all students will achieve success in these classes, they will have been exposed to college-level classes which in turn can help them if they choose to attend.
The Obama Administration suggests that we should encourage teachers to pursue continuing education and professional development. This will allow them the flexibility to keep current with their subjects while still being able to instruct students in their core classes.
Students who are not planning to attend a two- or four-year institution need additional work readiness training in high school. With the advent of computers, advances in gaming consoles, and social media, oral and written communication are sadly becoming a thing of the past. Writing classes that focus on practical applications to the workforce should be taught. Students should be skilled at writing memos, preparing presentations, and various other types of reports. Public speaking and other work-related soft skills should be a staple in any school curriculum.
Another set of skills that are crucial to surviving in the workforce are problem solving and teamwork collaboration. The team model is prevalent in business. Business projects have many moving parts and graduates need to be able to work in an environment where there are multiple opinions and points of view. Finally, professionalism and work ethic are values that need to be instilled in students the moment they enter high school.