Articles tagged with graduation requirement

When drive to send students to college goes off course

graduation-jubilationSetting high expectations for students is a good thing. But sometimes you can go overboard.

Take the case of Baltimore’s Western High School, the nation’s oldest all-girls public school. It told 17-year-old senior Gaetana Vitale that she could not participate in her graduation ceremony because she had not been accepted to a four-year university.

Thing is, she had been accepted at a nearby community college where she planned to study pre-veterinarian science.

But community college wasn’t good enough according to Western, which the Baltimore Sun reports has had a “longstanding practice of preventing students who have been accepted to two-year colleges from participating in the school’s graduation ceremony.”

Doesn’t make a lot of sense does it?

I could make sport of Western school officials for their nonsensical policy. But it would be a cheap shot. Officials did have a logical—if flawed—reason for their policy. And they made students aware of the rules when they enrolled.

Besides, the Sun reports that school officials decided to waive the requirement this year and rethink the logic behind their practice.
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Naomi Dillon|May 19th, 2011|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, Student Achievement|Tags: , , , |

College readiness to be the AIM in Arizona

I applaud Arizona lawmakers for trying to get to the heart of the matter, when it comes to what it takes to keep U.S. students competitive in a global economy.

Last week, State Rep. Rich Crandall, a Republican from Mesa, and State. Rep. David Lujan, a Democrat from Phoenix, proposed a bill that would replace the Arizona Instrustment to Measure Standards or AIMS, with college readinessness as the major determinant of whether a school adequately prepared a student for the future.

Crandall argued that the standardized test high school students must pass in order to graduate is based on 10th-grade questions, hence you have a snapshot of what a student can do at the 10th-grade level but not beyond.

And what Arizona students have been able to do after graduation hasn’t been too impressive, according to a new study by the Arizona Community Foundation. The College Readiness Report tracked 2006 high school graduates from Maricopa County who enrolled directly into the community college or one of the state’s universities.

Researchers found that about half of the students needed remedial math instruction and about a quarter needed back-to-basics help in English. All of the students had passed the AIMS test, finished their coursework, and earned a diploma.

The report’s findings is what drove Crandall and Lujan to propose a pilot program that would still look at graduation rates and AIMS scores in evaluating a school’s performance, but would rely more heavily on the number of college bound students who had to take remedial classes.

“People really don’t know what the AIMS test measures,” Lujan told the Arizona Republic. “Looking at how many students have to take remedial classes when they get to college, I think that’s a really good indicator.”

Naturally, there will be opponents who argue not all kids go to college, which is true. But shouldn’t all students be prepared for it any way?

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|February 2nd, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Assessment, Governance, Student Achievement|Tags: , , |

Lowering the bar to raise graduation rate

California’s troubled economy — the state is on track to run out of cash in a matter of weeks unless drastic measures are enacted— has taken another victim in education: high expectations.

The board at Santa Ana Unified School District, the largest school system in Orange County, has been discussing and will likely move forward with a plan to reduce the number of credits required to graduate from 240 to 220, dropping them from the district with the most stringent requirements to among the lowest in the county.  

In 2008, the district’s graduation rate was 83 percent, which district officials say would have been bumped to 87 percent or higher under the proposed plan.

With about 56 percent of its roughly 52,000 students classified as English Language Learners, the district argues the change would give them a better a chance at succeeding, while providing all students more flexibility in choosing their classes.

While all of that is true, it seems like the real reason is lack of funding. Ironically, the district had increased it’s graduation requirements in 2001, in concert with a pilot program it had launched to increase the high school day from six to seven periods.

The district has since dropped that program and its hopes of expanding it districtwide as the state’s financial situation has worsened.

“The main goal is to ensure all students graduate,” Jennifer Ruvalcaba, a counselor at one of the district’s high school’s told the Orange County Register.

Yes, but shouldn’t the goal also be to ensure all students are competitive? This isn’t a slam on Santa Ana, which like all districts in California are struggling just to survive, but an admonishment to California legislators for letting its school system continue to slip, one credit at a time.

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|January 30th, 2009|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance|Tags: , , , |
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