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Preparing Iowa students for success after high school

A respected survey shows a shift in what Americans want in a high school education.

Americans overwhelmingly support a greater K-12 focus on career preparation, according to the PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

More Americans think public schools should prepare students for work and life with a greater emphasis on:

• Career, technical and skills-based classes

• Work training

• Interpersonal skills

• Citizenship skills

Most people no longer think that academic preparation should be the main goal of a public school education. The survey shows we still value traditional academic preparation, especially opportunities for advanced academic studies, but “the public sees academics, while important, as only part of today’s educational mission.”

When judging school quality, the public gives much more weight to students’ job preparation and interpersonal development than to their standardized test scores. The poll shows more than 80 percent of Americans:

• Support job or career skills classes even if that means students might spend less time in academic classes.

• Say schools should offer certificate or licensing programs that qualify students for employment in a given field.

• See technology and engineering classes as a very important element of school quality.

• Believe it is highly important for schools to help students develop interpersonal skills, such as being cooperative, respectful of others and persistent at solving problems.

These results suggest that the main concern for parents is this: They want their children prepared for life after they complete high school.

I want to hear your thoughts. Do agree with the results of this survey? How do you think we are doing at preparing students for their futures? You can reply to this e-mail to share your perspective with me.

Contact Sen. Chaz Allen at 641-521-6297 or

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