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Monday, October 17, 2016

The farce of graduation rates

 "The four-year graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of students who graduate in four years or less with a regular high school diploma by the number of students form the adjusted cohort for that graduating class." My first concern is the issue of "on time" At what point does the importance of graduating in four years or less become the be all and end all of graduation.  If someone was sick for a year and graduated a little later are they now chopped liver?  If they develop at a slower rate should they give up and not complete in four and a half years because they don't count anymore? If a school pulls a kid out of the streets and gets them to graduate a little later are they a bad school?  Isn't graduation the issue?

They use a formula akin to shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Why do we do a formula? Beause we simply don't count the actual kids and follow them through their school years. That would scare us to see the reality of how many kids are pushed out into the streets simply because they don't fit the mold, simply because they are not good test takers.  And we don't give schools credit who serve the kids that need us the most, the kids that might take a little longer to make it.  We only give credit to those schools who serve the most children of privilege.  The kids who are good test takers.

How could anyone not be a good test taker when they are hearded into a room, put under enormous pressure, to take a test that is meaningless to kids if for no other reason that returns to the school four months later.  Well after their plans are in place.  What a waste.  A test that supports those who are good with paper and pencil tasks.  And then we brag about it.

And what is graduation anyway?  I remember a young special needs girl who left my middle school, went to high school for three years, dropped out and still walked across the stage with a diploma.  I was at that graduation, saw her diploma and had talked to her sister, who raised her and was told how and when she dropped out.  Cheating is at an all time high, not by kids, but by administrators who find a way to manipulate the stats to make them look good.

They don't blame the artificial common core fiasco that pushed kids out of school for not being at the same place at the same time fitting into that tiny box full of word games and math riddles. We struggle to force kids away from an education into a "teach to the test" fiasco totally draining them of every ounce of their individuality while assuring that they are not able to engage in critical thinking and innovation.

One of the greatest complaints of Asian nations is that the US is providing the innovators and their education system does not succeed in that effort.  However, we still keep trying to force kids away from critical thinking, understanding how our government works, being able to use their hands to maintain their houses and cars, how to be entrepreneurs, and a long list of skill areas that are not allowed in schools anymore.  Do we not want any more leaders like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Oprah Winfrey?

Is it today's reality that the Nazi style of every one in lock step is the only way to succeed?  Are we following the advice of  Thomas Jefferson when he called the purpose of the education system, "raking a few geniuses from the rubbish"?  And now we call those seen as rubbish being pushed out of school and thrown into the streets at earlier and earlier ages. Yet we brag about those of privilege who make it to their senior year and forget those who don't fit the mold.

Their is nothing in the current statistics that indicates success of the outdated system and philosophy of education called common core.  Those who haven't dropped out are forced away from a real education designed to prepare them for their future in their world after the classroom.  And that is even worse than dropping out!

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