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Friday, November 7, 2008

Graduating Early

Found this today, front and center on Yahoo.

Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

Seems New Hampshire is going to implement a testing program in 10th grade. The tests are modelled after current Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests, and are supposed to determine if the student is educationally prepared to move on to community college or trade schools. They can take the tests as many times as they would like, though may choose to stay and complete their junior and senior years of high school in order to be eligible to attend a 4-year university.

There are arguments on both sides of the issue. The big question is whether or not a test given at 16 years old is really legitimate for determining a person's path in life. Well, is it?

Working with 14-19 year olds all day long, I'm hard pressed to name one that I think is ready for college or trade school. Maybe my demographic is different than in New Hampshire. But, somehow, I think a Texas 16 is a New Hampshire 16.

There's a comment made in the article
One key concern is whether test results, at age 16, are really valid enough to indicate if a child should go to university or instead head to a technical school - with the latter almost certainly guaranteeing lower future earning potential.
Okay, as the child of a man who started out as a machinist and now makes 4 or 5 times the money I do, that's not fair. Technical schools can set you up for some amazing jobs. Most, if not all, start out making what I did with B.S. in education--if not more.

"You know that the kids sent in that direction are going to be from low-income, less-educated families while wealthy parents won't permit it," says Iris Rotberg, a George Washington University education policy professor, who notes similar results in Europe and Asia. She predicts, in turn, that disparity will mean "an even more polarized higher education structure - and ultimately society - than we already have."

This statement really bothers me. It's not that I don't see how that can happen, or even how it has happened in other countries. It's more that we're classing ourselves when we think that something is above or beneath us simply because of what it is. And we set our children up when we allow them to think the same way.

So..where am I going with this?

We need to accept kids differences. Both in ability and interest. Some just aren't cut out for universities while others are chomping at the bit for one--regardless of their socioeconomic background. We educate ALL of them. Period.

However, I do think New Hampshire's taking a step in the right direction, I just think it's maybe a bit too big a step just yet. We have to start offering more options--more stringent academic routes as well as more vocational/technical routes. We can't keep shoving 'college degrees' down our students' throats...we'll lose them.

4 thoughts:

loonyhiker said...

I agree that we need to start offering more options for our students. In the past, many of my special ed students were encouraged to go to vocational school to learn a trade. Many of them learned a skill and found a career using that skill when they graduated. Today my students are discouraged from attending the Career Centers (formerly vocational schools) because the curriculum is geared for those going to 4 year colleges. Now there are no options for my students other than dropping out or working at fast food places. They are not encouraged to attend a tech school because there is no "track" that prepares them for that. I think we are letting too many of our students fall through the crack.

Jill said...

I agree with your reactions to this article. There are many students at the high school where I am a media specialist (Cadillac High School, Cadillac, MI)that skip a class where an exam is being given or a paper is due, and they come in to the media center wanting to study or type thier paper. I obviously don't allow them to do this and they are usually outraged exclaiming that thier mom will excuse the absence. Is this child ready for the rigor of a university?? Heck no! The unfortunate thing is that I think parents and some teachers enable students to behave this way and think that menial tasks are beneath them. What they don't realize is that valuing hard work and learning a hard lesson are not ever easy. However, it leaves a lasting impression.

Holly Jahangiri said...

I'm biased. I started college at age 12. I think I'm reasonably normal...

Well, okay, maybe not. ;)

And I didn't graduate early. I didn't graduate from high school at all. I skipped 8th, 11th, and 12th - which only years later, I realized, made me a drop-out. Technically. That really bugged my daughter when she was younger. "Mom, why don't you go back and take your GED?? Set a good example for your kids?"

"Um, Sweetie? I have an AA, a BA, and a JD, and you want me to get my GED? No. Go ahead. Follow my crappy example."

Mean Old Library Teacher said...

Holly--
Okay, so SOME are ready for it. But I have a strong suspicion there's a difference between you and me at 16 and 16 year olds today. We haven't been teaching them how to function in the real world, we've been teaching them how to take a test that the real world ultimately doesn't care about.

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