August 7, 2013

Amelia Herring

Beyond the Basics: Addressing Advanced Skills Deficits

Beyond the Basics: Addressing Advanced Skills Deficits
Amelia Herring

Everywhere you turn there seems to be bad news about the U.S. falling further behind other countries when it comes to matters of education. Unfortunately, when it comes to mastery of the basics, it’s true.

Where are the Skills Deficits?
Grammar, spelling, math, reading comprehension… these are the foundations of education critical to the growth and prosperity of a nation. But studies show that our students fall behind 16 countries in reading proficiency and 31 in math. The same study also shows that only 31% of graduating high school seniors are proficient in reading, and only 32% are proficient in math.

Furthermore, 4 out of 10 high school graduates are required to take remedial courses when they start college. This places a tremendous burden on schools that have to allocate resources for this remediation and makes for an unpleasant surprise for students who are expecting to hit the ground running… not return to previously covered material.

The skills deficits apply to both basic and advanced levels. And looking beyond school, employers need—now and in the future—people who have these skills for entry and higher level positions.

What Can We Do?
Immediate, widespread, targeted remedial instruction is needed, and not just on a one-time basis. In order to fix the skills gap problem, we need to know exactly where it lies. You probably already know the value of basic skills testing, but there is now an option for assessing advanced skills. You can target areas for improvement with speed, ease and effectiveness.

Advanced skills testing helps identify gaps in subjects taught primarily in 5th-10th grade. Grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, geometry, trigonometry… these are a few of the areas assessed, and are among those critical for success in higher education and the workplace.

We can’t fix the advanced skills deficit problem overnight, but with effective targeting and remediation of deficit areas, we can make a difference.

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