Raising Expectations at Las Vegas Schools

Written by Patricia Hawke for schoolsk-12.com

Raising the Bar in Las Vegas Schools 
 As the fierce debate over the No Child Left Behind Act continues, and Las Vegas schools face the prospect of students migrating to charter schools under the voucher system, school authorities are faced with the challenge of creating fertile learning conditions to ensure that NCLB regulations are met.  Like in other schools across the country, Las Vegas schools are constantly on the look out for new teaching talent and in many Las Vegas schools attempts are being made to raise school rankings by improving infrastructure, enhancing teaching and reading facilities, and fostering a productive learning environment. Crucial to building a more academically inclined student population is the issue of raising expectations for students in Las Vegas schools.
Motivation to Succeed and How it Affects Las Vegas Schools 
The popularity of charter schools can be looked at from a different perspective.  Students who leave Las Vegas schools for charter schools make that decision out of choice.  This means they are motivated, and have motivated parents who encourage them to shift schools when the quality of teaching at Las Vegas schools falls below acceptable standards.  Contrast this with those who stay behind at Las Vegas schools. These are students who choose not to change to a charter school and this can be construed to mean that these students do not have as high expectations of themselves as do students who choose to make a major change in their educational path for an enhanced learning experience. Raising the expectations of students in the Las Vegas schools is therefore crucial to improving the quality of the schools themselves.
A few schools across the country have made the bold decision to make an application to college a requirement for graduation.  This is a courageous move by any standard and one that may not have too many takers because of all its implications.  However, making applications to college mandatory for graduation could be a concept that Las Vegas schools could benefit from.  Many students in Las Vegas schools are unaware of the fact that a college graduate stands to earn at least a million dollars more over the course of a lifetime than a high school graduate.  
The 21st century work force is a far cry from the job market that existed in the 50s and 60s.  Labor jobs have given way to careers that call for some amount of post secondary training.  Laying emphasis on a college education and making it the goal of high school could be the impetus Las Vegas schools need to improve student expectations.  When students are not just encouraged, but expected, to see college as an attainable goal, the results for Las Vegas schools can only be positive.