Graduating Early?

19Feb10

I’m surprised that this story hasn’t been picked up more widely around the state.  There is a plan coming out  to let Rhode Island students graduate as much as two years early from high school and head off to college.  And there’s funding, startup money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Students will merely need to pass some board exams and then be handed a high school diploma.  It’s an interesting concept, as it will let the best and brightest get out and not clog up the high schools and not be held back by the others who are not as interested in their education.  I’ve long been frustrated as I talk with teachers and they all mention how they will have basically a bell curve distribution of students in their class from the high to the low end.  So how do you teach when you have some students who are intellectually a couple years advanced and some students a couple years behind?  The answer I usually get is they teach to the level of the students that are behind.  This is very frustrating for the advanced an “on par” students.    So now, we’ll let those advanced students get out and get to where they should be, intellectually.

The only reservations that I have about this is all the stuff that kids get to do in high school.  Missing two years (usually the best years) of sports or drama club or the band.  Missing the junior and senior proms (unless they still have a date back at the school, I guess).  This would be a little bit of a hard decision for me, both if I was the student, and also as the parent of a student who could qualify.

I don’t know much about the board exams yet, but many times, the little Doogie Howsers don’t always have the emotional or social maturity to be around students a few years older.  Hopefully this will be a part of the exam system as well.

It will be interesting to see in Rhode Island, just how many students do pass the exam and take the opportunity to graduate early.  Enough that there will be fewer teachers needed?  Maybe in some schools, though I’m sure those teachers will simply get reassigned to other needed tasks.

Either way, I’m glad that someone is trying something new and starting to think outside the box when it comes to public education.

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