10th Grade Graduation? New Program to Better Prepare Students

Cynthia Dermody
5

blue graduation mortar boardWhen I first read the New York Times article about a new program being tried at dozens of schools to allow high school students to graduate two years earlier, I thought, what! Why rush things and push kids into the real world any earlier, especially when they are so behind the curve in reading and other basic skills.

But it started to make a lot more sense when I remembered my 11th grade alegbra class with Mrs. Gadarowski. No offense, Mrs. G. I know you really tried to help my mathematically-challenged self. But what a colossal waste of my time. I think I skated by with a D+, and was grateful for it.

I didn't know what I wanted to do for a living in 11th grade, but I did know one thing: It would be a job that did not involve numbers. Thank goodness for calculators on smart phones. My time would have been much better spent focused on the writing and language arts skills I was good at and that would eventually lead me to my future career.

That's the thinking behind the experimental program from the National Center on Education and the Economy, through a grant funded by Bill and Melinda Gates and modeled after similar programs in high-performing nations like Denmark, France and Finland.

In a nutshell:

Many students who enter community college need remedial courses their freshmen year to be able to stay in college, and many quit and drop out. This program attempts to eliminate that, to let high school students focus on the subjects and areas that they do well in and that will form the basis for their college preparatory work.

Those who take and fail the tests in 10th grade, called The Boards, would provide the option to enter community college early with a clear outline of their coursework. Sophomores who plan to attend selective colleges could still take the tests, and use them as a wake up call about the skills they need to master in high school before seeking to enroll in college.

Besides the obvious ones, I see lots of social benefits to this program. If someone told me I could graduate two years early and avoid the cliques, teasing, alienation, inferiority complexes, dejection, and just general miserableness of those years, I would have studied harder than I had in my entire life, even in algebra.

But that's just me, the high-school hater.

Would your teens do better in a program like this? Would you be sad that they were missing out on some high school milestones, like prom?


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