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For the purpose of this review, imagine the case of a firm which has job openings for recent high school graduates. In choosing new employees for these openings, the potential employer is trying to select the most suitable applicants from a pool of people about whom he or she has very little knowledge. It could be thought that an obvious predictor of future employee behavior is the performance of any particular applicant while he or she was in high school. However, “for the most part, employers never ask about high school achievement or performance on standards-based assessments. Moreover, states offer no easy access to information about graduates’ academic records, even if employers want it” (Achieve, 2004, p.2). Barton (2006) commented that “employers do not typically ask for transcripts when they hire high school graduates’ (p. 11), and read this “in general, evidence of academic achievement is not high on the list of skills and qualities that employers are looking for” (p 12).
The potential employer may not ask because he or she has learned through experience to distrust the level of achievement of high school graduates in areas that are the direct focus of education up to high school graduation. For example, Achieve (2004) found that more than 60% of employers “rate graduates’ skills in grammar, spelling, writing and basic math as only ‘fair’ or ‘poor'” (p. 11). According to the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGACBP, 2005), employers found that “almost 50% of high school graduates lack the reading and writing skills that [they] seek” (p 4). Barton (2006) sounded a cautionary note and pointed out that in the face of the limited amount of hiring of recent high school graduates, it is unwise to place too much weight on the opinion of employers about the “qualifications of … high school graduates for entry level jobs or for advancement” (p. 11).
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