The LA Times reports that the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest school district in the nation, has proposed significantly lowering its bar for graduation in order to avoid a flood of drop-outs.
Only 15% of students from the class of 2011 were eligible for admission to the University of California and California State University systems.
To be fair, the academic standards had recently been raised pretty high; eight years ago the district proposed a plan that would require all high school students to take college-prep courses.
Opponents criticized the plan as a pie in the sky are you kidding me magical thinking pipe dream. Some noted that a better method might be to prepare young students more adequately for high school, rather than setting the bar arbitrarily high once they arrived there.
Now, before the students have even set foot in the buildings, school district officials are proposing reducing the rigorous requirements—significantly.
The new plan would allow students to graduate with just 170 credits; 25% fewer than the 230 credits originally proposed.
170 credits is the minimum required for graduation by the California Department of Education.
A student who passes all of his or her classes normally can expect to earn at least 180 credits by the end of their junior year.
Another modification to the original proposal would allow students to pass college-prep classes with a grade of a D, officially making "below average" the new "average."
Some have questioned whether failing (by any other name) a college-prep course is really much better than passing a standard course; district officials maintain that it is, and add that they would like to raise the bar back up to a C-minimum for the class of 2017, entering high school in 2013.
Doesn't that also seem a little arbitrary? Or is the class of 2017 inherently smarter than these '16 dum-dums?
As you might expect, both the original plan and the proposed changes have left citizens extremely divided.
From the LA Times:
"If we don't do something, we have to be prepared to be pushing out kids as dropouts," said Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino at a school-board committee meeting Tuesday. "We face a massive dropout rate in four years."
"I know of no other school district in California that is reducing graduation requirements by 60 units and calling it an improvement," said former senior district official Sharon Robinson, who now is an advisor to school board member Marguerite Poindexter LaMotte. LaMotte added that she isn't convinced the district can carry out the policy successfully.
Kids are dumb. How can we expect kids to stop being dumb if we don't challenge them? How can we expect kids to meet those challenges if they are dumb? Kids are dumb.
The school board has yet to approve the proposed modifications.