Should states make the GED a high school diploma?

1 Feb

There are a variety of reasons why people fail to complete high school and fail complete their high school education. Kate Convissor lists the following reasons in the EduGuide article, Why Kids Drop Out of School:

While the reasons kids drop out vary, the following are six important risk factors:
1. Academic difficulty and failure. Struggling in school and failing classes is one of the main reasons teens drop out, and this pattern often shows up early. Students who fail eighth grade English or math, for example, are seventy-five percent more likely to drop out of high school.
2. Poor attendance. Teens who struggle in school are also absent a lot, and along with academic failure, absenteeism is an important future predictor for dropping out. As with the previous example, students who are absent for twenty percent of their eighth grade year (one day per week) are also highly likely to drop out in high school.
3. Being held back (retention). Linked to academic difficulty, students who are held back and who are older than the kids in their grade also tend to drop out.
4. Disengagement from school. Many kids who drop out say that school was boring and teachers did little to connect learning to real life. They didn’t feel invested in their school and they didn’t feel that adults seemed interested in them or their high school experience.
5. Transition to a new school. A poor transition from the smaller, more protected environment of middle school to the anonymity of a high school can cause a teen to have difficulty catching up-and some kids never do.
6. Other life factors. Pregnancy, family problems, and financial difficulties are all factors that distract a student from schoolwork and make keeping up more challenging.

Because many entry level jobs require at a minimum a high school diploma, the General Education Development Test or GED is often substituted for the high school diploma to show that an individual has reached a basic level of education achievement.

The Best Schools reported in High School Diplomas versus the GED:

Many indicators soundly show that holders of the GED fall behind their diploma-holding counterparts. The following are a few examples concerning future outcome differences:
• High school graduates earn, on average, about $1,600 a month more than those with a GED (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).
• Less than 5% of those with a GED receive a bachelor’s degree, compared to the 33% of those with diplomas that do (U.S. Census Bureau), which is supported by several studies showing that high school graduates are more prepared for college and score higher on placement tests than holders of the GED (National Bureau of Economic Research).
• 77% of GED holders do not continue past the first semester of college (American Council of Education study ).
• The military limits the number of accepted and requires higher scores on aptitude test for GED holders, because the military service dropout rates for GED holders is 45% compared to 24% for high school graduates.
The stigma connected with GED holders is not present for diploma holders, and that is the stigma of being a dropout, of lacking persistence, or of taking short cuts. This accounts partly for the large difference in wages between the two groups. Plus, many institutions view the robust education gained by years spent full-time in school cannot be garnered by the taking of a day-long test, nor indicated by it…. Maryland has offered diplomas to GED graduates for decades. Virginia gives GED recipients a certificate.

Some school districts and states are moving toward issuing a high school diploma upon completion of a GED.

Michael Alison Chandler reported in the Washington Post article, D.C. explores widening the road to earning a high school diploma:

The proposed regulations by the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) would remove the standard “Carnegie unit” — 120 hours of instruction, representing an hour a day, five days a week, for 24 weeks — upon which high school credit is based.
Instead, starting next school year, students would have multiple ways to earn credit, including passing a state-approved test or participating in a “course equivalent,” such as an internship, community-service project, portfolio or performance that can be tied to the academic standards. Another proposal would create a “state diploma” that would go to students who pass the GED any time after January 2014….

D.C. is not the only area looking for alternatives to the high school diploma.

MaryLynn Schiavi reported in Program makes it easy to get a high school diploma:

A pilot program launched in October 2014 is blazing a new trail for students of all ages and redefining the role of public libraries throughout the state. The Career Online High School (COHS) program is offering residents a free and convenient way to earn a high school diploma and other credentialed certificates through self-paced online courses under the guidance of an assigned coach. Students are expected to complete the program within 18 months.
“This innovative project is the latest step in the transformation of public libraries in the digital age into full-fledged community resources,” said Mary Chute, New Jersey state librarian….

It is important not only for a particular individual, but the economy for individuals to get a high school diploma. The question is whether a GED might open employment doors for some who have failed to complete their high school education. There are a variety of reasons why people fail to complete high school and fail complete their high school education, According to the July 24, 2011 NPR report, School Dropout Rates Add To Fiscal Burden by Claudio Sanchez and Linda Wertheimer, “Nearly 1 million kids who start high school every year don’t make it to graduation.” See, More Than Half Of Older High School Dropouts Not Employed Today Anything that states and school districts can do to broaden the opportunity to complete high school is useful.

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