Monday, June 27, 2005

D.C. Reinvents High School

In Saturday's Washington Post, an editorial talked about how the D.C. school system is going to offer High School students two new tracks. They could take an additional 5th year to finish or even finish in 3 years. Their hope is to tackle the incredible dropout rate they seem to experience due to a variety of reasons. They state the extended 5th year is not offered so students can have more time to hang out with their friends, but rather to accommodate other responsibilities like working or taking care of children.

As a college professor myself, I find this quite interesting! For colleges with open door policies where one can enter college with any level of competence this may actually help. Too many times social promotion was just used and students really did not have the skills when they entered college. Perhaps this 5th year will help this problem. At the same time, offering a 5th year without improving how to help students with their variety of problems learning may not solve the problem.

Perhaps high school & maybe even grammar school, should take some ideas from college, like scheduling. Could it be set up so students could take some classes in the evening or when they like? Maybe a Saturday or even Sunday? Perhaps we could go back to year round offerings. Students could pick & choose which teacher they would like to take. I know I have always been a night person (look at the time my entries are done!) and I would have loved to start my classes at noon & gone into the evening. That is what I did in college! Ha! Some may need to work. This would allow more flexibility. One could space time for studying. It may coordinate with parents schedules better also & not leave kids home alone. Just thinking out loud on some possiblities. Why not let kids progress in certain subjects at their own pace. Instead of promoting them a grade, which maybe they couldn't in all subjects, let a child take a course in math lets say that is a few levels ahead & yet perhaps science is lower. You may have a mix of ages but there will be advantages & disadvantages either way you go. I know you can do this to some degree but I am thinking about even more so!

What do you all think?

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