What my students need (and are currently lacking)...
We can make a giant list until we're blue in the face about how they need foreign language, and well rounded blah-blah-blah, civics credits, math credits, science labs, etc. But I think there are some intrinsic things that come BEFORE all of that, and maybe even INSTEAD. Because without these things, all that other garbage doesn't do a whole lot of good, other than to decorate a transcript.
Reading - basic level (read a story, comprehend its meaning, infer unspoken meaning)
Math - basic level (add, subtract, multiply, divide, fractions, decimals, percents, ratios - application to real life scenarios, and knowing when to use what)
Writing - basic level (physical formation of letters on the page, moving into physical transformation of thoughts into written words).
I think it cycles through again, but at a deeper level:
Ability to read hard words and riddle out the meaning,
Ability to read archaic styles and comprehend its meaning, infer unspoken meanings)
Ability to read textbooks and information texts - and be able to pull out important information, discard extraneous information, and summarize the information.
Ability to discuss the above with another person
Ability to use past mathematics to riddle out new problems and situations
Ability to follow a textbook step-by-step and try to find the solution on your own.
Ability to find other resources to help you, if you're stumped by the math textbook
So much of this is tied to Reading...
Ability to summarize in written form all of the styles above (archaic, textbook, information texts)
Ability to take notes from textbooks
Ability to take notes from oral presentations
Ability to pull together your own ideas and present them in written form
Ability to pull together your own ideas and present them in written form, WITH support from other sources (textbooks, oral presentations, videos, classic literature, etc.)
I've been chewing on this post from The Well Trained Mind Forums, about how to use a textbook. I have a fuzzy vision of where I want my children to end up, but absolutely no idea of how to get there. We're beginning to move out of that elementary (basic reading, writing, math) stage, but I really feel stuck at taking us to the next level.