Thursday, May 29, 2008

High School Graduation Standards

I received this information from the League of Education Voters:

"The Washington State Board of Education will vote in July to decide if they should raise our state’s high school graduation requirements. It’s important that you send a message to State Board members that you support this change.

Join us at the State Board's upcoming community engagement meetings next month:

Monday, June 2
4:00-6:00 PM
Spokane Community College

Littlefoot Conference Room, Student Center (Bldg. 6)
1810 N. Greene Street
Spokane, WA 99202

Tuesday, June 3
4:00-6:00 PM
Yakima Convention Center

10 North 8th Street
Yakima, WA 98901

Wednesday, June 4
4:00-6:00 PM
University Heights Center

Room 209 (Auditorium)
5031 University Way NE"

(I can't attend the Seattle meeting. If anyone does, could you please let us know how the discussion goes.)

They also mention a Times' editorial that appeared last week, supporting higher standards to match college entrance requirements. I had read the editorial and meant to post it. From the editorial:

"If the board has its way — and it should — high-school graduation requirements will change for the better. Students will be required to pass Algebra II to graduate, a critical baseline since students unprepared for college-level math must take a remedial course, Algebra II."

This is true, a lot of students come into college only to find that they need remedial math.

"Increasing the credits required for graduation from 19 to 24 is another proposed change that offers rigor without sacrificing arts, music, civics and other key courses."

Really? You promise?

The part that made me laugh:

"An increase in credits needed for graduation will require a shift at high schools from five periods a day to six. The state pays for five, forcing many districts, such as Seattle and Bellevue, to use levy funds. But this exacerbates the inequalities among large, small, rural and urban districts. The Legislature must fund the change in graduation requirements."

Seattle already has a 6 period day which we fund through a levy. And yet, the Times says all the districts should have this and, with a wave of their magic words, "the Legislature must fund the change". The Legislature doesn't even fully fund basic education.

I do support aligning high school credits to what is asked for to enter Washington state colleges/universities. But the Board of Education should do what Dr. Goodloe-Johnson says our district is doing; not creating new initiatives without funding. The Board of Education can certainly vote to change the credits requirement but without the solid backing of the Legislature, it's just one more burden on districts and one more challenge for students.


dan dempsey said...


This is just one more nonsensical decision by autocrats detached from reality. In regard to the lunacy driving this ......

We are falling behind in Math and Science ... look at India etc.

Indian Institute of Technology is best engineering school in the world... No argument from me on that.... but does India try to educate 100% of their student population to Algebra II levels?

This totally insane mandate will drive down the quality of an already remarkably poor WA school mathematics program.

Keep in mind the SBE has:

1) watched over the decade of decline

2) not a single member that has a highly math technical degree

3) 50% of students arriving at high school could not pass grade 8 math WASL and they become the 50% of tenth graders that can not pass the Math WASL - which contains math that is at best at the 8th grade level.

4) Clearly we are not even sure we are educating 50% of the students to do Authentic Algebra I. We have no data. The solution is to mandate Algebra II for graduation for all. You may have a shot at Alg II credits showing up on a transcript but there is no chance for that knowledge being in very many student heads under this plan.

5) This appears to be the next FIX coming out of the non-reality based pipeline.... why wait to fix anything? Lets move forward rapidly with the next colossal mistake instead.

With leadership like this our country should look closer at the enemy within -- that being our administrative decision makers' ignorance.

Jet City mom said...

Seattle already has a 6 period day which we fund through a levy.

Except if you are a senior and have basic graduation requirements met- you will find that there are not six courses you can take and still take the courses you need- unless you want to be a TA.

I also think if we aligned state graduation requirements to match up with college requirements- we would be dumping PE and OCC ed classes- which would irritate those adults who feel those courses should take precedence over say- 4 years of science & / or math.

Charlie Mas said...

I don't think that the high school graduation requirements should match the college entrance requirements. Not everyone is going to college. Not everyone is pursuing an academic track. Those students should not have to overcome excessive barriers to graduate.

Everyone goes on about how the curriculum should be relevant, well, a college-focused curriculum is not relevant for students who are not going to college.

These students already have their hands full with the current requirements. I don't see the point of burdening them with more before we support them to reach the current ones.

If the graduation requirements change, how would that alter the goals set by the Strategic Plan? Would we see the four-year graduation rate target drop from 75% to 65%? to 55%?

SolvayGirl said...

When I went to high school in NY State in the late 60s, there were two levels of high school graduation. One was the "Regents" diploma for college-bound students and it had stricter graduation requirements and a different curriculum. Students chose which track to take; there were no qualifying exams.

Students not bound for college got a traditional diploma and took general courses and, often, career-related courses like secretarial skills (ancient history now), auto shop, machine shop, etc.

There was no stigma attached to either diploma; it was understood that some would go into trades (still well-paying positions) and some would go to college.

Why can't WA State come up with a system like that? I am sure many kids would benefit by learning skills that could help them get well-paying jobs (plumbers, electricians, etc.) when they graduated from high school. Charlie's right, not every kid wants to go to college and we shouldn't short-change them or make their successful exit from high school an impossible task.

Jet City mom said...

Ive addressed this before & I daresay I am probably one of the few on this blog who didn't graduate from high school and ( I took the GED when I turned 18) and neither I nor my H has ever attended a 4 yr college.

I will insist that both my kids are prepared for college.
( which I am thankful to say- is a goal achieved- my oldest graduated from Reed college a few years ago and my youngest, despite having spent 6 years in the SPS special education system, has been admitted to all the 4 yr colleges on her list)

A job that seems good when you are 20, does not pay the rent when you are 40.

Even with unions, ( who are losing membership- what with offshoring and a switch from a manufacturing to a tech economy), a job that only requires a high school diploma ( colleges offer tech degrees that are much more useful than vocational classes taken at high school level in the long run), is not going to provide your family with health insurance, with enough income to afford a home and most importantly- unless you are self employed in which case it is not as important- you lose chances for advancement without college background.

That is a recipe for segregation, not just in the schools but in the community.

anonymous said...

Class of 75, I totally agree with you and am doing everything possible to make sure that my children are on track to go to college. In fact I don't think they even realize that not going to college is an option? But that is my families choice.

Not all kids want or are able to go to college. You have to have motivation and drive, and you have to be willing. And there are so many circumstances that can be discouraging factors. Kids that need to get out of their home situation -which means skipping college to work full time to support themselves. Kids from very low income families that need to work to help support their family. Kids who want to work in their families business. Kids who go into the military, etc, etc. We can't discount other peoples choices. And we can't force them to do what we think is right. They can and should make their own decisions.

The best that we can do is offer college prep or a college track to every single student who wants it. And offer a trade option to the who don't. And we can supplement these offerings with counseling at a much higher level than it is offered now so kids know there choices, and are well advised. Then if they choose not to go to college so be it. You have to respect that.

TechyMom said...

And let's not forget that you can always go back to college later. I know many people who were not mature enough for college, and either didn't go or dropped out, who then went back in their late 20's and did well. Working in the trades for a few years is a way that many people can build maturity, figure out what they want to study/do, and save some money to pay for college.

A great many 18 year olds are pushed into college by their parents, don't have any idea what they want out of life, and graduate with huge debts, only to find that they hate their chosen career. IMHO, these kids would be far better off working for a few years and going to inexpensive community colleges later when they want better jobs. If you get good grades at community college, it is much easier to get into UW (for example) as a junior than as a freshman right out of high school.

I like the idea of the Regents diploma. Keep the requirements the same for graduation, and add an extra set of requirements to make it easier to know when you've completed the college entrance requirements. I would also support technical diplomas in fields where a 4 year degree is not needed. Community colleges offer things like MCSE and A+ certification (IT certs that earn big bucks, and get you in the door at tech companies), Biotech certificates, Boat Building, low-end nursing etc. Why not offer these things in High Schools, or use the Tech Prep program to allow more HS students to graduate with marketable skills? Again, this doesn't stop them from going to college later, and it can help them find a way to pay for it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree with much of this discussion but boy, is it hard to say at these meetings. It's as if you are saying something akin to being a Communist if you say all students are not going to graduate college ready. And that's even if we are know, as adults, that all kids are not going to college.

Jet City mom said...

I would agree that not all students are ready for college right away. Both my kids took a year off ( they are also young for their grade/their age), before college. ( my older daughter did CityYear- my younger daughter is volunteering through National Civilian Community Corps- both funded through Americorps and wonderful programs to not only get more young people involved in the community, but give them the support they need to continue to do so)

I am a huge proponent of everyone having to do community service for one or more years either after high school or college.

If I had, had college prep classes in high school, I could have gone right to college- as it was I was bored to death in high school & dropped out because I felt it was a waste of my time.
I had been on the no college track for years-which I attribute to lack of adult involvement.

It wasn't hard to take the GED, but courses which are required to apply to a 4 year school are all but closed to me- namely a foreign language, because my older brain just doesn't get it.

As I had begun to take a language in 9th grade in my junior high ( but the same language was not offered at my high school- and so I wasn't given any language), I think that had I taken it earlier, it would have left more doors open.

As a former community college advisor, I also cringe when I hear CCs being touted as the place to get tech skills.
Yes some CC's have good programs, but they are not transferable to a 4 year university.
Also too many schools teach what the instructors" know", not what the employers want.
I had experience with many, many disgruntled students who learned that the hard way.

Washington doesn't have a poly tech university- which we sorely need.
We could teach math/science/ English etc with a vocational focus that could still meet university admission requirements.

A 2nd language facilitates work in construction, the food industry, auto repair, landscaping, health care- the list goes on.

I also think that we could give students time to finish these requirements.
Many of the students who aren't prepared or interested in attending college, have attended middle schools that did not prepare them for high school.

Even with the WASL that was supposed to motivate schools to align curriculum, we have classrooms where expectations are high & we have classrooms where the teachers are happy if the kids show up and that is enough to get a passing grade.

If someone is prepared and is a quick learner there are options, like attending EEP at the UW or taking courses through running start.
For those with more challenges- what is there?
Marshall??? Or Evening school?
Some choice.

We could have a poly tech high school, where kids took a curriculum similar to the structure of a community college- but they could take more than 4 years if needed to attain their diploma without stigma.

But I would still hope that they would meet minimum college application requirements- because even if they didn't attend college right away- it is much easier to get those basics before you are working to support yourself and your family.

sorry I don't know how to past direct url

From the Wall street Journal

In today's piece Wessel explains that women have gradually been closing the pay gap with men, yet:

the men and women at the statistical middle of the middle haven't done all that well. The typical man earned $42,261 last year, which is 2.7% more than the typical man earned in 1996, adjusted for inflation. For women, it's $32,515, up 7.1% -- better, not great. In the same decade, output per hour of work, known as productivity, climbed nearly 30%. ...

But the noteworthy gap is between workers with education and workers without, regardless of gender. The payoff for getting a diploma traditionally has been greater for women (in the past, some men got high-paid blue-collar jobs), and that's still true. The bigger story is how much more valuable a college diploma is than it was 30 years ago, and how much of a penalty a worker pays for not going to college.

dan dempsey said...


Thanks for pointing out how difficult it is to even try to articulate what needs to be said at meetings.

Robert Oppenheimer was a principal author of the Manhattan project, he then wound up on the US Gov. black list.

Things have not changed much in 60 years. Speak the truth in a culture based on deception and be marginalized.

The incredible lack of value placed on community input in both the SPS and at OSPI is typical of the correct movement by the correct people in our overly-correct communities.

A connection to the truth remains largely unavailable in so many instances. We can thank so many different levels of administration for that.