My colleague, Marc Epstein, exposes the suspect promotion and graduation numbers in New York City high schools in today's Daily News.
There's credit recovery so students need not pass a test or do homework all year and they can still get course credit. There's watered down summer school. There are annualized courses so if a pupil fails in the fall, don't worry, he/she just passes in June and receives credit for the whole year. In addition, part of a Chancellors' Regulation that requires 90% attendance to graduate is apparently being ignored. The high school diploma is being rendered meaningless.
At Jamaica High School, we often joke that each school is soon going to have a "drive through window" so anyone who drives by will get a diploma. From what we have heard, Jamaica is playing catch up with other schools that are ahead of us in the credit recovery and annualization games.
Since school grades and principal as well as teacher bonuses are now based on student standardized test scores, promotion and graduation rates, it has ironically led to a new era of social promotion.
Is this the system the state legislature really wants to continue?
We are not saying that there are never extenuating circumstances when a student needs some extra assistance to get through. Unfortunately, with high stakes decisions about a school being made based upon student statistics, it looks as though adults are doing what they have to do with the numbers to protect and advance their positions. We're given a scary choice to either push students through or push them out so school statistics look good. How about offering lower class sizes in every class and reasonable guidance caseloads as an alternative?
If something isn't done, we will be causing incalculable damage to a generation of young people by calling them high school graduates and handing them meaningless pieces of paper. We also risk devaluing the hard earned diplomas of the many pupils who actually attend class and work hard to graduate from high school without being pushed through.
There has to be a better way than this to educate our next generation.