Tuesday, November 27, 2007

High School Graduation Requirements

From a CPPS e-mail today:

How High Should We Set the High School Graduation Bar? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Are our children getting a world-class education to prepare them for 21st century life after high school? The WA State Board of Education wants to hear your thoughts as they review high school graduation requirements for the first time in 22 years. Background information/presentations will be provided to help inform this critical discussion.

Join this important community conversation:

Wednesday, December 4
6 - 8 pm
North Seattle Community College
College Center Bldg Cafeteria
9600 College Way North

The WA State Board of Education will use feedback from this meeting and from community meetings across the state to define the purpose of the high school diploma and to draft recommendations for new high school graduation requirements. The outcomes will be shared with the public in spring 2008 with another round of community outreach meetings pre-finalization. For more info: visit the State Board of Education website.


Anonymous said...

Here is another meeting that should be publized, but not sure how to get the word out:

"Exploring the First Draft" of the Washington State Revised Mathematics Standards to be held on Thursday, December 6, 7:00-9:00 pm, at the Seattle Airport Hilton Hotel, Crystal A Room.

This session, sponsored by the Washington State Office of Public Instruction, is an opportunity for those interested in the Washington State Mathematics Standards to examine the draft, participate in open discussion, and provide feedback for improvement.

The First Draft to be released on December 4, 2007.

Questions to be asked are:
* Do the content priorities in the First Draft address the critical mathematics that students need to learn?
* Are the expectations clear so that students, teachers, parents, and item writers understand the skills and knowledge that students should aquire?
* Does the First Draft address the concerns raised by the SBE report, "Washington State Mathematics Standards Review and Recommendations"?

Presentors will be Terry Bergeson, Washington State Superintendent OSPI, and George W. Bright, Standards Coordinator OSPI, and Terry Rose and Art Mabbott, members of the Standards Revision Team.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm going to be attending the Graduation requirements meeting. What I would offer if they take public comment is this:

1) WA state students have to do a lot more than most high school students in this country. I've asked out of state friends/family in Tennessee, California, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Arizona. None of them have community service and none have a senior project. All have state tests but not all have the requirement to take and pass the test.

Many of you may not have kids in high school. It is more competitive than ever to get into college. Their grades need to be high and they need to have deep interests (not be a superficial joiner). Not to mention if they also want to do music, drama or sports. It's a lot to get done and done well in a short period of time. Oh yeah, and enjoy your last years of being a kid.

For those kids not going to college or those on the edge of dropping out, these requirements overwhelm them. I think it would be hard to do both the senior project and community service on your own without a parent available for guidance.

I say drop one or the other. My vote would be the senior project.

2) Senior project is a joke. The state allows each district its own parameters and in our district, each high school makes its own rules. I know from parents who have graded projects that many kids get a pass for any effort simply because parents are unwilling to be the ones to not let a kid graduate based on a senior project.

Senior project at Roosevelt involves finding an adult mentor who has be willing to be there at several stages. It is not easy to find an adult that has that kind of time.

No admissions officers care about a senior project unless your child did a great over-the-top project.

3. This state will never see better pass rates on the math portion of the WASL until it is more about math than reading and writing. Plain and simple. It hurts immigrant kids who might know math but not be language-able and it hurts kids who have strong math skills but not strong writing skills.

What I offer doesn't lower standards or expectations. It puts the focus on academics.

Anonymous said...

to anon at 2:04

I suspect that the tone of the Terry Bergeson meeting will be such that those who've driven this math wreck for the last 15 years will be given a new car and new directions and new training and new powerpoints and new job titles

and we'll be getting the same old heading to a wreck driving.

Anonymous said...

if we are preparing kids to get in programs like the following, then we are doing our k-12 jobs.

given all the kids who can't do basic computations, never mind real thinking, due to pie-in-the-sky unreal education philosophies and their incredibly educated incredibly dumb policies, we are failing.


'A modern biologist is just as likely to explore the aerodynamics of insect flight using techniques from computational fluid dynamics or study the regulatory circuits of gene expression using the latest ideas from machine learning.'

Anonymous said...

Dear Melissa at 7:54 PM,

You hit the nail on the head.

When schools continually add more stuff, they dilute the time available for essential things.

The last 20 years have been a continual progression of putting more into the school classes and school year. The result has been less academic competency required.

I especially like your ending:
What I offer doesn't lower standards or expectations. It puts the focus on academics.

Charlie Mas said...

A high school diploma should mean that the student has some required minimum set of knowledge and skills. It does NOT need to mean that the student is college-ready. Let the colleges decide which students are college-ready; that's why they have admissions staff and do their own testing.

The bar for high school graduation should not be set at college readiness but at adult functionality.

For reading, I would say that a high school graduate should be able to read a newspaper and they should have the contextual knowledge to make sense of it. They should also be able to read and follow the instructions on a tax form, a prescription, and a recipe.

For writing, they should be able to draft a cogent letter to the editor and write instructions for a simple task.

For math, they should be able to complete a tax return, check a restaurant tab and calculate a tip, measure a shelf, and double a recipe.

I don't know if these basic abilities can be translated directly into so many credits of English, Math, History, and occupational education, but I would be VERY concerned if the bar were set at college-readiness.

As for having a test that determines if students know what a high school graduate should know, we already have that: the G.E.D.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea. Certainly we know that everyone isn't going to college. That's why we have a separate place, college, that isn't high school. Additionally, we don't have enough college seats for everyone. But then what about the WASL? I'm sure many students who meet these basic requirements will NOT pass the WASL. And when all the WASL failers don't graduate, we have an even worse problem. We have failed to recognize people who DO have this basic competency, and have worked for their diploma, and should have a high school diploma. But now, suddenly, they can't have one.

Anonymous said...

Correction to the Meeting's date:

Join this important community conversation:

Tuesday, December 4, 6 - 8pm
North Seattle Community College, College Center Bldg Cafeteria
9600 College Way North

The WA State Board of Education will use feedback from this meeting and from community meetings across the state to define the purpose of the high school diploma and to draft recommendations for new high school graduation requirements. The outcomes will be shared with the public in spring 2008 with another round of community outreach meetings pre-finalization.

Feedback forms are available if you cannot attend the meeting. Please download the forms, complete them, and send them to the Board by email, fax (360-586-2357), or mail.

For feedback forms and more info: visit the State Board of Education http://www.sbe.wa.gov/SBEPublicOutreachFall2007.htm

Anonymous said...

The link provided on Beth's original post leads to the PowerPoint which will be presented at the meetings.

Two graphs were of interest- "Credit requirements by District" (Seattle is the lowest at 20. The majority of the districts (62) all require 22 credits to graduate.

Also, "Wa. State vs District graduation credit requirements in English, Math & Science" (only 20 districts require 3 English credits, whereas 226 districts require 4).

It looks as if Seattle has the bar set pretty low in this state.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon at 1:29,

You are correct the bar is low.
Even so when students never had to make it over a bar K-8, that high school bar appears high.

Check the SPS HS drop out rate.
Failing to train or require students to actually merit success cannot be overcome by many of the socially promoted in grades 9 through 12.

I am really tired of the teacher bashing from Terry Bergeson, Administrators, many school boards, the public, the media, etc.

Various levels of administration have the SPS so messed up, the only recourse appears to be teacher bashing.

This is now giving rise to the MG-J ala Mike Riley one-size fits all pacing plan (sure to fail in diverse urban school districts) from the SPS. SPS is too confused, disorganized and lazy to even write required necessary skills for each grade level. This is not admin bashing -- look at the record and talk to some of those that work below and under the higher levels of detached admin autocrats at JSCEE.

When the one-size fits all plan fails in the SPS, get ready for another round of teacher bashing and administrative hand washing.

The SPS needs a lot less creative admin SPIN. Solid sustainable programs need to be thoughtfully developed and implemented. See the May 2007 elementary math adoption of Everyday Math for the exact opposite.

JSCEE upper admin seems to believe in more spin less academic substance.

It seems a few anons find me negative. Please look at the data and SPS track record.

Spring 2005 to Spring 2006
10th grade Math WASL passing rate rises by an incredible 15% (as 18 fewer students pass the test). Now that is world class spinning.