High Goals in High SchoolHigh Goals in High School

High Goals in High School

If you're the type of student who is always thinking ahead, now's your chance to meet and even exceed some of the goals you have set for your future. For example, Passaic County Community College now offers seven college courses for $100 a semester at Manchester Regional High School, Clifton High School and Passaic County Technical Institute. Pompton Lakes High School seniors can take courses directly at the college. According to a recent article in the Herald News, the seven courses add up to 19 college credits—almost an entire year of college. Chances are your school also offers opportunities at the nearest community college or career-training program. It's worth it to check them out.

The reality is that New Jersey is working very hard to make its high schools more rigorous training grounds for college and careers. The more you learn in high school, the experts say, the better prepared you'll be to succeed in college and the workforce. Makes sense, right?

Well, someday soon your high school classes will also become more demanding, whether you like it or not. "The world is changing," says Jay Doolan, acting assistant commissioner of the Division of Educational Programs & Assessment in the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE). "The global economy and technology show that high schools have to change in order to prepare students for what lies ahead, either in college and/or the workplace." Doolan; Lucille Davy, the commissioner of the DOE; and others are working hard on redesigning the work at New Jersey's high schools through a program called the American Diploma Project (ADP).

The ADP has several goals, the first of which is to change the core curriculum of middle schools and high schools. "We're looking at our language arts and math standards and ensuring that the content truly prepares students for college and the workplace," says Doolan. Once these new standards are approved, students will be required to take four years of tougher college-prep English, three years of mathematics, specifically Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II, and physics, chemistry and biology and a possible fourth-year elective in science.

Students need to learn a variety of subjects to be prepared for the 21st century economy, adds Doolan. "You need to know about civics and history, so social studies is important," he notes. "You should also know world language and the arts because they enrich life. You have to be technologically proficient and know something about careers. You also have to have good health and be physically able. We have those requirements now, but we would have to ensure that they are included in this new package."

Other goals of the American Diploma Project are for the state to provide assistance to middle and high schools to restructure their programs and to offer professional development opportunities for teachers and school leaders so that they understand the goals and can help students meet them. The new high school standards are in the final review stage, which means tougher assignments will soon be on the lesson plan. Times are changing—so get ready to work!