Dallas Independent School District develops three-year high school diploma, savings to go to prekindergarten

23 Jun

As students are prepared for functioning in a 21th century world, the role of schools is evolving. The Future of Children describes high school in the article, Purpose and Outcomes of Today’s High Schools:

Given a common structure, but distinct environments and a still separate and unequal experience for many students, what is the purpose of high school in the twenty-first century? The weight of evidence suggests a growing consensus among both the students who attend the schools and the school districts and states that organize them that regardless of the characteristics of a school or its students, the primary purpose of high school today is to prepare students for college. The secondary functions of workforce preparation, socialization, and community-building remain, but ask a student, parent, school district administrator, or state school official the purpose of high school, and by far the most common response is that the mission of high school is to prepare students for postsecondary schooling.                                                     http://futureofchildren.org/publications/journals/article/index.xml?journalid=30&articleid=35&sectionid=64

Two reports and one article by Diane Ravitch in the Washington Post, which is a reply to the report by the Center for American Progress regarding whether children are learning the skills which are necessary in the 21st-century. These papers highlight the questions of what skills are necessary for children to be successful and whether they are learning these skills in school. Moi discusses the report, Do Schools Challenge our Students? What Student Surveys Tell Us About the State of Education in the U.S. from the Center for American Progress in Report from Center for American Progress report: Kids say school is too easy. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/report-from-center-for-american-progress-report-kids-say-school-is-too-easy/ In response to the report, Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and author of the bestselling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” wrote Are U.S. schools too easy?

Sarah D. Sparks has written a good synopsis of the report, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century in the Education Week article, Study: ’21st-Century Learning’ Demands Mix of Abilities. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2012/07/study_deeper_learning_needs_st_1.html

Morgan Smith of The Texas Tribune writes in the article, In Dallas, 3-Year High School Diploma Would Expand Preschool which was published in the New York Times:

Dallas Independent School District, the state’s second largest, is developing a voluntary three-year high school diploma plan that is likely to start in the 2014-15 school year and would funnel cost savings to finance prekindergarten.

A bill passed in the recently concluded legislative session, sponsored by two Dallas Democrats, Representative Eric Johnson and Senator Royce West, will allow the district to use savings that occur when students in the new plan graduate early. Under current Texas law, districts get state funding on a per-pupil basis, and the Dallas I.S.D. would have lost state aid for a senior year for students who graduated early.

It’s a way to start thinking about the system differently,” said Mike Morath, the Dallas district trustee who promoted the three-year concept. “Do we view education as schools and buildings and first grade and second grade and third grade? Or do we view education as a way to enrich the lives of young people, and do we start taking these institutional blinders off and thinking about it more creatively?”

Advocates of early childhood learning say prekindergarten programs have long-term benefits, including making students less likely to drop out, repeat grades or need remedial course work. In his State of the Union address in February, President Obama set as a priority making “high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.”

The state now pays for half-day preschool programs for children who are learning English or are from homeless, low-income, foster or military families.

In 2011, the Legislature, facing a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall, slashed more than $200 million in grant money that had helped districts extend pre-K programs to a full day. Since then, many districts have been seeking ways to keep full-day prekindergarten without state aid, including charging tuition and, in the case of San Antonio, imposing a city sales tax.

The new legislation authorizes the state to credit the Dallas district for students who graduate under the three-year plan, Mr. Morath said. The district would receive an additional year of state financing for students who finish after what would normally have been the 11th grade.

The plan will enable the district to finance full-day pre-K programs at a rate of two children for every three-year high school graduate, he said. It could also result in savings from what he called a “slightly reduced need” for high school staff members.

Because the program, which must still be approved by the state education commissioner, is in its initial stages, Ann Smisko, the Dallas school district’s chief academic officer, said the district could not predict what the demand might be.

Ms. Smisko said educators would work with middle school students to determine who would enter the new diploma plan. Under the legislation, the district is required to form partnerships with state community colleges and four-year universities to place students who graduate early in some form of postsecondary education. Parents must give their approval for students to participate.

The district is in the midst of developing curriculum requirements for the three-year diploma, which Ms. Smisko said would be geared to “college-ready” standards.

Mr. Morath said an alternative diploma plan would appeal to high-performing students as well as to those eager to start vocational training.

He said the district would determine within five years whether the program was successful. At that point, the Legislature could decide whether to expand it to other school districts in Texas.

The proposal is not intended to be a way to get rid of the senior year of high school, which for many students has value for both social and academic development, Mr. Morath said. “I don’t think anyone thinks the 12th grade is going away,” he said.                                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/us/in-dallas-3-year-high-school-diploma-would-expand-preschool.html?hpw

The three-year diploma is one option for completing high school.

The American Education Guide describes the types of high school programs:

High School Graduation Options

Florida students entering their first year of high school in the 2007-2008 school year
may choose from the following graduation programs:

  • The Traditional 24-credit Program

  • An International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

  • An Advanced International Certificate of Education Diploma Program

  • A three-year, 18-credit college preparatory program

  • A three-year, 18-credit career preparatory program

All of these graduation paths include opportunities to take rigorous academic courses designed to prepare students for their future academic and career choices. All students, regardless of graduation program, must still earn a specific grade point average on a 4.0 scale and achieve passing scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in order to graduate with a standard diploma. However, the two three-year programs are significantly different from the traditional 24-credit

Traditional 24-Credit Program – It’s a Major Opportunity!

This program requires students to take at least 24 credits in subject areas such as English, mathematics, science, social studies, fine arts, and a physical education course to include the integration of health. Foreign language credit is not required for this program, although it is recommended for community college preparation and is required for admission to Florida’s state universities. This program offers students the chance to take eight elective credits- four credits in a major area of interest and four credits combined to allow for a second major area of interest, a minor area of interest, or elective courses. Major areas of interests will allow students to define their interests and use their high school experience to become better prepared for higher education and/or a career of their choosing.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Program

The International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is a rigorous pre-university course of study leading to internationally standardized tests. The program’s comprehensive two-year curriculum allows its graduates to fulfill requirements of many different nations’ education systems. Students completing IB courses and exams from the six subject groups are eligible for college credit. The award of credit is based on scores achieved on IB exams. Students can earn up to 30 postsecondary semester credits by participating in this program at the high school level. Approximately 45 Florida high schools participate in the IB program. Students in Florida’s public secondary schools who are enrolled in IB courses do not have to pay to take the exams. For information, visit www.ibo.org.

Advanced International Certificate of Education Program

The Advanced International Certificate of Education Program is an international curriculum and examination program modeled on the British pre-college curriculum and “A-Level” exams. Florida’s public community colleges and universities provide college credit for successfully passed exams. Students in Florida’s public secondary schools who are enrolled in AICE courses do not have to pay to take the exams. For information, visit www.cie.org.uk and click on “Qualifications & Diplomas.”

Three-Year, 18-Credit College Preparatory Program

This accelerated graduation program requires fewer credits than the traditional 24-credit program and does not require the student to select a major area of interest. It focuses more on academic courses, which means students take fewer elective courses. Unlike the traditional 24-credit program, the three-year college preparatory program requires students to earn two credits in a foreign language. Students must earn at least six of the 18 required credits in specified rigorous level courses and maintain a cumulative weighted grade point average of a 3.5 on a 4.0 scale with a weighted or non-weighted grade that earns at least a 3.0 or its equivalent in each of the 18 required credits for the college preparatory program. It also requires higher-level mathematics courses than does the 24-credit program and the three-year career preparatory program. The credits required by this program must satisfy the minimum standards for admission into Florida’s state universities.

Three-Year, 18-Credit Career Preparatory Program

This accelerated graduation program requires fewer credits than the traditional 24-credit program and does not require the student to select a major area of interest. It focuses more on academic courses, which means students take fewer elective courses. Unlike the 24-credit program, the three-year career preparatory program requires students to earn specific credits in a single vocational or career education program. It requires students to maintain a cumulative weighted grade point average of a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale with a weighted or non-weighted grade that earns at least a 2.0 or its equivalent in each of the 18 required credits for the career preparatory program. The requirements of the program are designed to prepare students for entrance into a technical center or community college for career preparation or for entrance into the work force.

Choosing a Program

The three-year programs are designed for students who are clear about their future goals, who are mature enough to leave high school, and who are ready to pursue their goals beyond high school in an accelerated manner. To assist students and parents with this task, each school district shall provide each student in grades 6 through 9 and their parents with information concerning the three-year and four-year high school graduation options, including the respective curriculum requirements for those options, so that the students and their parents may select the program that best fits their needs. To select a three-year graduation program, students and their parents must meet with designated school personnel to receive an explanation of the requirements, advantages, and disadvantages of each program option.
Students must also receive the written consent of their parents. Students must select a graduation program prior to the end of ninth grade. Each student and his or her family should select the graduation program that will best prepare the student for his or her postsecondary education or career plan.     http://www.americaseducationguide.com/articles/4-High-School-Graduation-Options

In moi’s opinion, a relevant of the paper is Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century because the question of whether there is a skill-set which will help most students be successful. Is an important question. For a contra opinion, see Jay Mathews’ 2009 Washington Post article, The Latest Doomed Pedagogical Fad: 21st-Century Skills. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/04/AR2009010401532.html

Schools have to prepare students to think critically and communicate clearly, the label for the skill set is less important than the fact that students must acquire relevant knowledge.


High School, Only Shorter: Some Students Cure ‘Senioritis’ by Graduating Early; Trading Prom for Scholarships                 http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304750404577321561583186358.html

Condensing high school to three years                                    http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/jun/22/condensing-high-school-three-years-works-me/


What the ACT college readiness assessment means                                           https://drwilda.com/2012/08/25/what-the-act-college-readiness-assessment-means/

Study: What skills are needed for ’21st-century learning?’                                   https://drwilda.com/2012/07/11/study-what-skills-are-needed-for-21st-century-learning/

ACT to assess college readiness for 3rd-10th Grades                                        https://drwilda.com/2012/07/04/act-to-assess-college-readiness-for-3rd-10th-grades/

National Center on Education and the Economy report: High schools are not preparing students for community college                    https://drwilda.com/2013/05/14/national-center-on-education-and-the-economy-report-high-schools-are-not-preparing-students-for-community-college/

Where Information Leads to Hope ©     Dr. Wilda.com

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COMMENTS FROM AN OLD FART©                           http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/

Dr. Wilda Reviews ©                                                http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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