One of the scarier things you learn from researching the problems in our educational system is that, at the same time that high school graduation rates have stagnated, high school degrees actually signify less in the way of essential knowledge and skills than they did 30 or 40 years ago. One way states and schools improved graduation rates was by dumbing down the curriculum and the standards. On average, high school seniors graduating in 2013 are notably less prepared for college or employment than high school graduates were in 1970. This adds burdens to the higher education system (to get their new students caught up to the point where they can actually start learning college-level subject matter), to the students (who are dismayed to find out that their already-expensive 4-year degree has become a 5- or 6-year degree due to remedial coursework), and to businesses (who must deal with less-educated entry-level employees).
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