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Stand for Children Illinois releases plan to address college student exodus

Tuesday, Oct 16, 2018

* Press release…

Stand for Children Illinois, a non-partisan, equity-focused education advocacy non-profit, announced the release of its report, “STOP ILLINOIS BRAIN DRAIN: Building Pathways to Prosperity for High School Students.” The report proposes state- and district-level policy changes and practices that will quickly have a positive impact in helping high schools graduate more students who are ready for college, career training, or careers.

“An alarming number of high school graduates are leaving the Prairie State. Only New Jersey has worse brain drain,” said Mimi Rodman, Executive Director of Stand for Children Illinois. “Our high school graduates are voting with their feet and going to out-of-state colleges, which is another example of the toll that the state budget crises took on education. Strengthening our high schools is critical for those who go onto college, and those who choose career training or join the workforce after high school. A critical component to setting Illinois high schoolers up for success is breaking down the silos between Illinois high schools on the one hand, and colleges, career centers, and workplace experiences, on the other.”

The facts are stark.

    * More than one-third of Illinois high schools do not offer Calculus, a course that students considering careers in engineering and other advanced STEM fields should be able to access.
    * Statewide, Illinois has a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:664 — a far cry from the recommended ratio of one counselor for every 250 students.
    * Manufacturing, energy, and health sciences represent about half of the jobs in Illinois, yet only 12% of career and technical education students enroll in classes in these sectors.

“From the moment students start high school, school should be setting them up well for their next phase of life, not just for their next class. Students should be immersed in career possibilities and supported to understand how to achieve their career goals,” said Rodman.

The report points to a number of structural improvements in place in the state that can be leveraged to reduce brain drain. These include increasing college and career counseling support, better aligning career education enrollment with labor market trends, creating statewide dual credit opportunities, and funding innovative competency-based learning programs. The state must ensure that high school students in every corner of the state have access to enriching pathways that lead to prosperity. The implications are enduring and state-wide.

The recommendations in Stand’s report fall into four categories:

    * Open More Doors to Individualized Coursework
    * Provide Practical Workplace Experiences
    * Modernize the Approach for Supporting Students
    * Adequately Fund Education and Spend Wisely

Collectively, these recommendations present Illinois with an achievable, impactful pathway for policymakers and advocates to make prosperity a reality for Illinois high school students.

The report caps off a year of study and discussions with leaders in the field by Stand’s 2017-18 Class of Illinois Policy Fellows.

The full report is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    That Calculus number blows my mind as does the physics number

    Tragically, 37% of Illinois high schools do not offer Calculus, and 23% do not offer Physics.

    The question I would have as a follow up (would be interesting to get the names and locations of the schools that this is true for) is why? Is it demand? Budget? Getting someone to teach it?


  2. - Roman - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 11:24 am:

    Some good suggestions, though not exactly groundbreaking. Also, most of it seems to be directed at improving college readiness in high school. That will help increase college enrollment among students who aren’t enrolling at all right now and help those who are failing to complete college. But few of their recommendations will do anything to stop Illinois students from choosing Iowa State over NIU, or Southwest Missouri State over SIU.


  3. - Fav Human - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 11:55 am:

    My high school didn’t offer calculus. I don’t think that’s needed at high School level. Physics is. FYI, I have a degree in engineering from UIUC.

    As for not studying Mfg, energy or health sciences, the first two are heavily layoff prone and the last is notorious for putting up barriers to entry.

    My physical therapist has a BS. Now it takes a 6 year PhD. Really that much change in physical therapy from 1990 to now??


  4. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 12:02 pm:

    Had dinner over the weekend with my cousin who is a retired math teacher and is currently tutoring students. She feels that math is being pushed too early, with 7th graders taking algebra and 8th graders taking geometry. As to the 37% figure, would that about be the percentage of high schools with an enrollment of 400 or less. That means about 100 per class, of which likely only 10 are “thinking” of a STEM career. Is the school district then need to hire someone with a Masters in Math/Education whose primary goal is to teach a class of 10?


  5. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 12:09 pm:

    Fav Human has a good point about over credentialing jobs.

    On line video teaching should be encouraged in smaller schools. Math does not need in person teaching.


  6. - City Zen - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 12:11 pm:

    I think my high school only had calculus at the AP level and not until Jr/Sr year.

    I managed to test into engineering calculus in college without ever talking it in high school. Looking back, I wish I didn’t.


  7. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 12:14 pm:

    I agree with Roman. These are very good ways to improve college readiness, but there is nothing in this proposal to keep the students in Illinois for higher ed.


  8. - California Guy - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 12:25 pm:

    It’s a logical move. Get educated somewhere else for less money, then permanently move away to a State with a more sound fiscal situation.

    College grads are less tied down and mobile relative to Illinois residents that have families with kids in school.


  9. - OneMan - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 12:40 pm:

    I think my high school only had calculus at the AP level and not until Jr/Sr year.

    Now Calculus for Freshman would be a tough high school.

    Fav Human, lots of Engineering schools like to see AP Calc on the transcript, also gives you a leg up even if you don’t use the AP credit for when you take it.


  10. - City Zen - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 12:51 pm:

    ==Illinois has a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:664 — a far cry from the recommended ratio of one counselor for every 250 students.==

    Only New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wyoming beat the recommended ratio while the national ratio is 1:482.

    https://www.schoolcounselor.org/asca/media/asca/Publications/ratioreport.pdf


  11. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 1:22 pm:

    =Illinois has a counselor-to-student ratio of 1:664 — a far cry from the recommended ratio of one counselor for every 250 students.=

    This is as much about the availability of counselors (that meet the Illinois licensure requirements) as it is about finances. One of our counselors (out of 2 total) left over the summer. We had exactly 1 qualified candidate and that one was poached from an area school who is going without filling the position.

    Math and science face the same challenges, finding qualified candidates. Can they teach the upper level courses effectively. There is also a lower demand in our district, a rural school with high poverty. We are lucky, our Board of Education has backed our efforts to increase our STEM offerings but smaller districts are struggling. We are trying to partner with them to make it more affordable to us and available to them but distance makes it tough.

    =Math does not need in person teaching.=

    I disagree. Respectfully, it depends on the kid and the class. More rigorous classes need in person instructors most of the time. This has been our experience at least.


  12. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 1:41 pm:

    ===”Only New Jersey has worse brain drain,” said Mimi Rodman, Executive Director of Stand for Children Illinois.===

    Twas ever thus. Illinois has been exporting college students since, well, forever. I’m glad Stand for Children is finally on to it, but short of building another 10-12 public universities, Illinois will still be a top exporter of college students.

    Why? Because we have lots of high school graduates relative to other states. And let’s face it, other states have some fine colleges and universities too. If you want to be an engineer but can’t get into UIUC? Why limit yourself to SIU if you can go to Carnegie-Mellon or Purdue.

    Illinois will always export a lot of college students. That really isn’t the problem we need to solve. We should be more concerned about making the universities we have as good as they can be.

    A healthy higher education system in Illinois requires strong community colleges, strong public universities, and strong private universities. Our system needs to function better as a system. The pieces are all there, but not necessarily complementing each other.


  13. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 2:23 pm:

    JS Mill.
    I agree that different students will learn better under different approaches. Online teaching is better than no teaching. How else do we provide the service?

    Talked to a friend this weekend who is finally retiring for good. She loved teaching biology and went pack part time because the schools had nobody to teach. Now the lack of central office support plus the lack of student discipline has tilted the balance.


  14. - City Zen - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 2:31 pm:

    ==Twas ever thus. Illinois has been exporting college students since, well, forever.==

    Indeed. Both Illinois and New Jersey have been the biggest exporters of college students since 1992, the oldest date on file with NCES. Maybe someday, we’ll stop treating this as some sort of new event.

    ==Why limit yourself to SIU if you can go to Carnegie-Mellon or Purdue.==

    Exactly. That smart Naperville kid who really wanted to go to UIUC but got rejected is probably not choosing a state directional when there are a slew of high profile out-of-state schools nearby. There is an aspiration component to choosing a college for most kids that, unfairly, will lead them over state lines. The state can pump as much money as it wants into EIU, it doesn’t mean its perception with the prospective students will change.


  15. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 3:50 pm:

    =How else do we provide the service?=

    In some districts online is the only option. I get that, and know two local districts that had to go that way for math and foreign language. That problem is growing. Right now we are big enough that we have options and have been able to fill positions, but it has been a struggle. Next year we may have to resort to online. In my professional opinion, and this was the point I was trying to make, is that in person is better than online for most kids. With Respect.

    =Talked to a friend this weekend who is finally retiring for good. She loved teaching biology and went pack part time because the schools had nobody to teach. Now the lack of central office support plus the lack of student discipline has tilted the balance.=

    That is ashamed because the discipline part is not that hard. Clear expectations and the will to do what is right.


  16. - Ed Higher - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 4:19 pm:

    It’s going to take a lot more than these recommendations to turn Illinois higher ed around. Yes, administrators deserve some of the blame. But there’s only so much you can do after decades of cuts. Students aren’t dumb, nor are the HS counselors who advise them where to go.


  17. - Union Thug Gramma - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 4:58 pm:

    Had dinner over the weekend with my cousin who is a retired math teacher and is currently tutoring students. She feels that math is being pushed too early, with 7th graders taking algebra and 8th graders taking geometry. >>>
    I’m 61, I took algebra in 7th grade or 8th grade, but it was jr. high.


  18. - Last Bull Moose JS - Tuesday, Oct 16, 18 @ 5:39 pm:

    JS Mill. I value your comments.

    Discipline is hard when you are teaching high school students have not learned discipline at home or in earlier grades.

    Decatur, my home town, has had tough times. Their school system has 1/3 the students of my era. The town has hollowed out with those who can moving to nearby towns.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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