Grad rate rises as diploma’s value falls

NewImageNow here’s a big surprise: you lower the bar and more people can make it over. </sarcasm>

America’s high school graduation rate is at an all-time high, yet a high school diploma doesn’t signify college readiness, career readiness or even attendance at school, writes Brandon Wright.

“We’ve simultaneously lowered the bar for high school graduation while pushing for more high school graduates to attend college,” he writes.

Unprepared students often are left with college debt but no degree — or skills. Half of remedial students never take a college-level course.

Wright proposes telling students the truth about their preparation for the adult world and promoting career and technical education.

Yes, we spent $13,000+ per year for your education. Yes, you are not ready for English or Math in college. Yes, we’re going to keep up that standard. 

He also suggests basing the high school diploma on demonstrated competency, not seat time, or offering different diplomas for students who’ve met academic or vocational criteria. (A “general” diploma for those who aren’t ready for anything will need to be offered too.)

Finally, he warns about evaluating high schools on their graduation rates. “When you condition adults’ livelihoods on whether students walk across a stage wearing a cap and gown, more and more students will do so, regardless of academic accomplishment,” Wright predicts.

Praising high schools for students’ college admission rates also is meaningless. Did they get into open-admission community colleges? Did they enroll? How many passed first-semester classes?

Via Joanne Jacobs