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Thread: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

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    Default Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    High school sophomores should be ready for college by age 16. That's the message from New Hampshire education officials, who announced plans Oct. 30 for a new rigorous state board of exams to be given to 10th graders. Students who pass will be prepared to move on to the state's community or technical colleges, skipping the last two years of high school. (See pictures of teens and how they would vote.)


    Once implemented, the new battery of tests is expected to guarantee higher competency in core school subjects, lower dropout rates and free up millions of education dollars. Students may take the exams - which are modeled on existing AP or International Baccalaureate tests - as many times as they need to pass. Or those who want to go to a prestigious university may stay and finish the final two years, taking a second, more difficult set of exams senior year. "We want students who are ready to be able to move on to their higher education," says Lyonel Tracy, New Hampshire's Commissioner for Education. "And then we can focus even more attention on those kids who need more help to get there."



    But can less schooling really lead to better-prepared students at an earlier age? Outside of the U.S., it's actually a far less radical notion than it sounds. Dozens of industrialized countries expect students to be college-ready by age 16, and those teenagers consistently outperform their American peers on international standardized tests. (See pictures of the college dorm room's evolution.)


    With its new assessment system, New Hampshire is adopting a key recommendation of a blue-ribbon panel called the New Commission on Skills of the American Workforce. In 2006, the group issued a report called Tough Choices or Tough Times , a blueprint for how it believes the U.S. must dramatically overhaul education policies in order to maintain a globally competitive economy. "Forty years ago, the United States had the best educated workforce in the world," says William Brock, one of the commission's chairs and a former U.S. Secretary of Labor. "Now we're No. 10 and falling."



    As more and more jobs head overseas, Brock and others on the commission can't stress enough how dire the need is for educational reform. "The nation is running out of time," he says.



    New Hampshire's announcement comes as Utah and Massachusetts declared that they, too, plan to enact some of the commission's other proposals, such as universal Pre-K and better teacher pay and training. Still more states are expected to sign on in December. And the largest teacher union in the U.S., the National Education Association, is encouraging its affiliates to support such efforts.



    Some reform advocates would like to see the report's testing proposals replace current No Child Left Behind legislation. "It makes accountability much more meaningful by stressing critical thinking and true mastery," says Tracy.
    No date has been set for when New Hampshire will start administering the new set of exams, which have yet to be developed. But to achieve the goal of sending kids to college at 16, Tracy and his colleagues recognize preparation will have to start early. Nearly four years ago, New Hampshire began an initiative called Follow the Child. Starting practically from birth, educators are expected to chart children's educational progress year to year. In the future, this effort will be bolstered by formalized curricula that specify exactly what kids should know by the end of each grade level.
    That should help minimize the need for review year to year. It will also bring New Hampshire's education framework much closer to what occurs in many high-performing European and Asian nations. "It's about defining what lessons students should master and then teaching to those points," says Marc Tucker, co-chair of the commission and president of the National Center for Education and the Economy in Washington. "Kids at every level will be taking tough courses and working hard."



    Right now, Tucker argues, most American teenagers slide through high school, viewing it as a mandatory pit stop to hang out and socialize. Of those who do go to college, half attend community college. So Tucker's thinking is why not let them get started earlier? If that happened nationwide, he estimates the cost savings would add up to $60 billion a year. "All money that can be spent either on early childhood education or elsewhere," he says.


    Critics of cutting high school short, however, worry that proposals such as New Hampshire's could exacerbate existing socioeconomic gaps. 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. "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."


    It's a charge that Tracy denies. "We're simply telling students it's okay to go at their own pace," he says. Especially if that pace is a little quicker than the status quo.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    Many of the comparisons between US high school graduates and those of other countries are often flawed. In the US all students generally go through 12 years.

    In Europe they often have to take exams at 16. Those that pass continue on, those that fail go into a trade. Most comparable aged European high/upper school graduates are roughly comparable to our college freshmen.

    On the other hand. My daughter already had a semester of college earned via AP exams after her junior year. She could graduate high school in the Spring with a year's worth of AP credits.
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    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    The motivation, I suspect NH, like most states are seeing a bursting k-12 population and requiring additional space to accommodate the growth in numbers. Kicking them out early will minimize the need for new construction.

    Kicking them out for vocations isn't such a hot idea since child labor laws still apply to a 16 year old and there are few employers other than retails that will hire them and for minmum wage at that.

    Personally I think iot's a bad idea. They are creating situations like we have here in the inner cities, where the there are too many unemployed 17-18 year olds seeking a minimum number of jobs. They just hang out and find ways to get into trouble.
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    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    Intellectually I was ready for college at 16, and I feel like highschool was pretty meaningless for me.

    However physically and socially there was definitely a tremendous amount of developement between 16-18. I'm already the youngest sophmore at my school, I definitely would have not wanted to go to college without those years under my belt.
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    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    From what I understand in this article the goal is to have students ready to move onto college or trade school by age 16.

    This does intend to mean 16 years would be ready to join the workforce en masse. It means that students could begin post high school education earlier.

    I would like to see this program move forward.

    I also like the idea also mentioned in the article about tracking individual students from k-12 each year marking their progress. This would make it much easier to target help towards those students who are struggling.

    Currently our nation seems to be flush with community colleges but I think as a nation we are falling behind in trades types of education.

    I would also like to see something more done to help with post secondary education cost by having a national service program. A program that would award education grants in exchange for national service with programs similar to Americorps, PeaceCorps, military service etc.

    Another possible method of helping with college costs for highly skilled areas such as medicine would be to give education grants to doctors and nurses who serve a number of years with a reduced salary at hospitals and clinics in under served areas throughout the nation (rural areas, inner city etc.)
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    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    Our public education system by nececssity encourages all kids to be "round pegs," that is, to conform to the norm. Sure, there are programs for gifted and not so gifted students, but basically, everyone goes through the same meat grinder. Any program which attempts to recognize individual differences and adapt education to them is a good one. As LoSt said, though, intellectual ability is only one factor. Social maturity must also be considered in an accelerated program like this one. Not every smart kid is a Doogie Howser.
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    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    Our public education system by nececssity encourages all kids to be "round pegs," that is, to conform to the norm. Sure, there are programs for gifted and not so gifted students, but basically, everyone goes through the same meat grinder. Any program which attempts to recognize individual differences and adapt education to them is a good one. As LoSt said, though, intellectual ability is only one factor. Social maturity must also be considered in an accelerated program like this one. Not every smart kid is a Doogie Howser.
    Social maturity is important but how would that be judged/evaluated?

    Frankly, I know many extremely immature adults and very mature young adults. Age turned those immature adults loose when they turned 18 (some earlier as they moved out on their own at 16).

    I have read studies that a brain's judgement areas do not fully mature until the late teens and early 20's.

    Even if these changes were made to education allowing students to attend college and trade schools sooner I have not seen that tied to the age of 16 becoming the age of maturity.

    I would picture that kids starting college and trade schools at 16 would still be living at home with their parents for at least the first few years of the post high school education.

    In this case I don't think we should hold back education based on a maturity level.
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    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spider View Post
    Our public education system by nececssity encourages all kids to be "round pegs," that is, to conform to the norm. Sure, there are programs for gifted and not so gifted students, but basically, everyone goes through the same meat grinder. Any program which attempts to recognize individual differences and adapt education to them is a good one. As LoSt said, though, intellectual ability is only one factor. Social maturity must also be considered in an accelerated program like this one. Not every smart kid is a Doogie Howser.
    I don't think they will adapting education to individuals, just creating two round peg holes while unloading a bunch on others. Let's face it the sooner you kick'em out of the system, the lower the cost of maintaining the system. HS sophs aren't ready for college, and 4 year schools won't be willing to mix them in with 18's plus, in large numbers. 16's are still minors and colleges have enough headaches with in loco parentis without having to fret over minors on campus. Some may consider them emancipated minors, but generally the courts do not. If they are being spun to an already bursting community college, the school board is just transferring cost to a different entity, so don't think this saves tax dollars.

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    Default Re: Should Kids Be Able to Graduate After 10th Grade?

    Accelerated programs for gifted kids are great, but throwing them in with older kids isn't always. True, emotional maturity shouldn't determine the level of education, but it should be a consideration in bumping a kid ahead two grades. There's more to be learned in school than what's in the textbooks, and the emotional challenges of fitting into an older peer group can be difficult if not harmful.

    Not based on facts, just my opinion.
    Last edited by Spider; 11-08-2008 at 05:49 PM.
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