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Center News

June 21, 1999

All One System: A Second Look Released

Linkages between K-12 education and higher education are stronger than everÖ but not close enough to overcome critical gaps in student achievement, according to a new report All One System: A Second Look written by Harold L. Hodgkinson, Director of the Center for Demographic Policy.

Hodgkinson published a landmark report in 1985, All One System, which presented the argument that the nationís graduate schools were dependent in part on the quality of its kindergartens, and that there was a single system of education underlying all educational segments from kindergarten through college.

The report indicates that the long-neglected and problematic relationship between K-12 education and higher education is only now beginning to receive the attention that it warrants. Hodgkinson highlights some of the progress:

  • Increased awareness about the importance of early childhood years for successful development in school and college;
  • Increases in the number of minority enrollments in higher education; and
  • The virtual elimination of the gap in high school graduation rates for black and whites, even though Hispanics lag behind both groups; and
  • Two successful state stories (Texas and North Carolina) on school reform. These states established common goals and standards at all educational levels making every transition easier.
  • More and better collaboration between teachers, administrators and boards.

The preface, written by Governor James B. Hunt Jr. of North Carolina and James J. Renier retired CEO of Honeywell Corporation, cites the chasm that exists between K-12 education and higher education as unique to the United States. Hunt and Renier call for immediate action by policy makers to bridge the chasm in which "higher education and K-12 education appear to operate in separate universes."

The report discusses a major problem threatening further progress between all educational systems; the poverty rate among U.S. preschool children is 21 percent. This rate has not moved for the past decade. Furthermore, according to the study, because so many other factors are predicted by poverty rates (low parental education, teen pregnancy, prison rates, etc.), it appears that if the rate remains constant programs that produce good results will remain limited in their impact.

According to Hodgkinson, "education should be a seamless web from kindergarten to college graduation." However, the K-16 educational system is far from being a reality. The author points out where some of K-16 progress still needs to be made, including:

  • The most important transition in a childís educational path -from preschool to kindergarten-needs to be included in the discussions about K-16.
  • Low-income ethnic minority and immigrant children need to be exposed to information on "how you get into college" during the most critical years-the junior high years.
  • Increases in test scores. New evidence suggests that state test scores can increase over time if state policies emulate Texas and North Carolinaís example.

This report is the first in a new series, "Perspectives in Public Policy: Connection Higher Education and the Public Schools," that seeks to promote public and educational policies designed to strengthen the linkage between schools and higher education. The series is co-sponsored by The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and The Institute for Educational Leadership.

Additional copies of this report are available for $15 per copy; quantity discounts are available for orders over nine. To order publications from this series, please email iel@iel.org or click for order form; fax (202-872-4050) your request to the Institute for Educational Leadership. Please refer to the publication title and number when ordering.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education was established in 1998 to promote opportunity, affordability and quality in American higher education. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, the National Center provides action-oriented analyses of state and federal policies affecting education beyond high school.

The Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C, has provided policy and leadership assistance to people and institutions since 1964. IELís mission is to improve individual lives and society by strengthening the educational and social development opportunities of child and youth.


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