Hard work and lower standards raise our national high school graduation rate

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/18/hard-work-and-lower-standards.html


A friend of mine from the 'states told me he spends 7 hours a day in school, doing 8 classes.
Sweet jesus that’s a lot of time/work.

And they do a “graduation exam”? wtf is that good for, when they’ve already done exams at the end of every damn course.
How do other nations, who expect much less labor out of their students still produce damn effective doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals?


Yes, but let’s continue to lob vitriol at the Common Core State Standards, the single best effort to date to ensure that what a third grader in Massachusetts learns, a third grader in Mississippi also learns.


I have so much to say about overhauling education, as probably anyone else here in boingboing. But seeing how the US is failing young students, their parents, and the community at large really upsets me.


Common Core gets a bad rap, yeah. It’s been used in ways it wasn’t meant to be (e.g. as a content outline for coursebooks) and implemented by superintendents who don’t understand anything they can’t stuff into an Excel sheet.


I’ll just leave this here:

It’s not a simple problem, and there isn’t a simple answer.


Common Core is fine. Rather than teaching math as a series of operations you do situationally, as i was taught in the California Public schools in the late 70s-90s. Common Core teaches the science of math to kids and I think in the long run we’ll be better off for it.


Totally agree; hopefully there’s a chance for it to catch on for real, before the next top-down education overhaul.


I thought it was a content outline, not a teaching paradigm.

Eleven students per teacher, maximum, would usher in a new golden age of enlightenment - with or without standardized content.


Know that I’m at my desk, applauding your comment.


It’s not quite either of those. It’s just a list of skills a student should have after each grade.

Using it as a content outline doesn’t work so well, because A) there’s no scaffolding inherent in the standards—which skills support which; B) it’s not simple to work backward from “what skills to teach” to “how to teach them”; and C) the terminology used in the standards is total gobbledygook unless you got a Masters in education in the past 5–10 years.

Christ, if only!


Yet, it does require a shift in instruction. It requires teachers to recognize useful struggle in students and avoid feeding them the answers. It’s both a behavior shift and a set of benchmark skills students should meet at specific grade levels.

Shameless plug here, but my team recently produced a set of stories about teachers that have used the Common Core instructional shifts to great benefit to their students.

1 Like

It’s difficult to know which states earned this uptick in graduation rates through high standards and hard work and which states achieved it through shortcuts and lowered expectations.

That’s one of the problems for a nation that’s spent the last few decades getting used to juking the stats:


Los Angeles Unified School District decided years ago that their #1 priority was to get graduation rates up (thereby keeping asses in seats, more money from the state) - by any means necessary and that would be the only statistic they cared about.

Since then they’ve been dropping standards as fast as they can get away with and redefining what graduation rate means (like unemployment rate is not actually the unemployment rate), and over half the kids who end up going to CalState need remedial English and Math - and those are the ones who even go to college. But we’ve ‘raised’ our graduation rate from 50% to 70%, wheeeeeee!

Counterpoint: some of them will argue that not having a high school diploma or GDI is so crippling for employment prospects that you should give everyone a diploma. I believe I heard this on KNX, interviewing a LAUSD bureaucrat.


Kids these days are bad, and they’re badder than before. In fact they’ve always been badder than before. Kids and their so-called rappity hippity music. And schools are bad too. And don’t get me started on teachers’ unions.


Then when everyone’s special certified at a basic education level, noone will be.

1 Like

What if it took me more than 3 minutes to read it?


Let me guess which of those two approaches they opted for in Mississippi.

1 Like

Perhaps not the strongest endorsement if it took two decades. :wink:


Do they teach them to think rather than to just memorize facts, perhaps?