Tag Archives: High School

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. http://www.thebestschools.org/degrees/high-school-diplomas-versus-ged/

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…. http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-seeks-flexibility-in-granting-high-school-diplomas/2014/12/14/814816a6-7fa0-11e4-81fd-8c4814dfa9d7_story.html

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…. http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/02/01/road-high-school-diploma/22589769/

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.” http://www.npr.org/2011/07/24/138653393/school-dropout-rates-adds-to-fiscal-burden See, More Than Half Of Older High School Dropouts Not Employed Today http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/21/high-school-dropouts-unemployment_n_1291210.html?ref=education&ir=Education Anything that states and school districts can do to broaden the opportunity to complete high school is useful.

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MDRC report: New York City’s small schools raise graduation rates for disadvantaged students

19 Oct

The Wisconsin Department of Education has a succinct description of what makes a successful school in Characteristics of Successful Schools Chpt 1 – Overview:

Successful Schools Have a Vision That:

  1. is accompanied by other strategic planning. Strategic planning is a data-driven process that guides decision making, as well as program implementation components such as:
    • goal statements
    • means to accomplish the goals
    • timelines
  2. links education standards to teacher expectations and student performance
  3. fosters district wide expectations and experiences that result in all students mastering challenging standards at proficient or above levels
  4. engages the entire learning community to take responsibility for all students’ learning
  5. includes carefully defined terms that are known and supported by all constituents
  6. is developed with representation from a wide variety of publics and demographic groups
  7. drives resource allocation in the learning as well as the broader community
  8. allows the societal, academic, and organizational components of education to operate in a seamless manner
  9. articulates the learning community’s commitment to both excellence and equity in the organization
  10. embraces the dual mission of creating in each student solid and rigorous academic achievement and civic caring and responsibility


MDRC, with a grant from the Gates Foundation, has been studying small schools in New York City for the past several years. Disadvantaged students are enabled in the small school setting, according to their findings.

Patricia Willens of NPR reported in the story, New Research Suggests Small High Schools May Help After All:

Findings from a new long-term study of small high schools in New York City show the approach may not only boost a student’s chances of enrolling in college but also cost less per graduate.

The city began an intensive push to create smaller learning communities in its high schools in 2002. That year, the city’s education department rolled out a districtwide lottery system for high school admission.

The study, by the research group MDRC, compares the academic outcomes of students in the small schools with a control group of students who sought admission, lost a lottery, and enrolled in other New York City high schools.

At the same time, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg started creating hundreds of high schools enrolling about 100 students per grade — enrollments much smaller than the comprehensive high schools that had been the norm for decades.

These small schools shared some key characteristics: academic rigor, personalized relationships with teachers, and real-world relevance to the classroom lessons. Another key: outside funding, including from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corp. of New York, and the Open Society Foundations. (Those three philanthropies are also supporters of NPR.)

The proportion of students who graduated from these high schools in four years and enrolled the next year in a post-secondary institution was 8.4 percentage points higher than in the control group, 49 percent, the MDRC study finds. In particular, the researchers found that the schools boosted college enrollment for black males by 11.3 percentage points, a 36 percent increase relative to their control group counterparts.

The small high schools included in the multiyear study also cost less per graduate. Costs were roughly 14 percent to 16 percent lower, the study said, largely because students graduated in four years rather than staying for a fifth year of high school….                           http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2014/10/17/356661018/new-research-suggests-small-high-schools-may-help-after-all

Here is the press release from MDRC:

New Findings Show New York City’s Small High Schools Boost College Enrollment Rates Among Disadvantaged Students

Higher High School Graduation Rates Translate into College Enrollment; College-Going by Black Males Up by 36 Percent


(New York, October 16, 2014) — MDRC, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education and social policy research firm, released new findings today from its rigorous multiyear study of small public high schools in New York City. The findings confirm that these schools, which serve mostly disadvantaged students of color, not only raise graduation rates by 9.4 percentage points, but they boost college enrollment by 8.4 percentage points. In addition, the small high schools achieve these gains at a lower cost per graduate than that of the high schools attended by students who had applied to these schools but were randomly assigned to other public high schools when small school slots were full.

Nearly all of the increase in high school graduation rates can be attributed to a rise in Regents diplomas attained, and the effects are seen in virtually every student group attending these schools, including male and female students of color, students with below grade level eighth-grade proficiency scores in math and reading, low-income students, and students in special education. The effects on postsecondary enrollment are seen for most student subgroups, including low-income students and students of color. For example, the schools boosted college enrollment by 11.3 percentage points for black males, a 36 percent increase relative to their control group counterparts.

“Our study confirms that New York City’s small public high schools are making a marked difference for a wide range of disadvantaged students, not only helping more of them to graduate with Regents diplomas but equipping them to actually take the next critical step into college,” said Gordon Berlin, President of MDRC.  “What is truly remarkable, though, about these results is that a high school reform has had a measurable effect on college-going and it has done so at scale — across scores of public high schools.”

More Detail on the Study and the Findings

The creation of small schools by the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) began in the 1990s. In 2002, the NYCDOE instituted a district-wide high school admissions process that emphasized student choice and began establishing over 100 new academically nonselective small public schools. Each enrolling approximately 100 students per grade in grades 9 through 12, these schools were created to serve some of the district’s most disadvantaged students. Besides being small, they emphasize academic rigor, personalized relationships among strong teachers and students, and real-world relevance of learning. MDRC’s study takes advantage of the lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process that kick in when schools have more applicants than seats available to compare over time the academic outcomes of students who won their first lottery and enrolled in the small schools with those who sought admission, lost a lottery, and enrolled in other New York City high schools.

Previous reports by MDRC (in 2010, 2012, and 2013) showed marked increases in graduation rates for the cohorts of students who entered these small high schools in 2005, 2006, and 2007. This new report updates those findings with results from a fourth cohort of students who entered ninth grade in the fall of 2008. For the first time, the study also follows students into postsecondary education. A separate working paper contains a cost analysis. The study’s new findings include:

  • For all four cohorts of students, small high schools in New York City markedly increased high school graduation rates for large numbers of disadvantaged students of color, even as graduation rates were rising at other New York City high schools. For the full sample, students at small high schools have a graduation rate of 71.6 percent, compared with 62.2 percent for students in the control situation. The higher graduation rate was driven by students earning Regents diplomas. These effects were seen among nearly all subgroups of students who attended the small high schools.
  • Attending a small high school increased the percentage of students who graduated from high school in four years and enrolled the next year in a postsecondary institution by 8.4 percentage points (to 49.0 percent). Most subgroups, including black males, black females, and students eligible for free/reduced-price lunch, experienced these effects. Small high schools modestly increased enrollment rates in postsecondary schools at every selectivity level, including competitive and very competitive schools, as defined by Barron’s ratings.
  • The small high schools achieved these gains at a lower cost per graduate than that of the high schools attended by their control group counterparts — roughly 14 percent to 16 percent lower. This is in large part because more students successfully graduate from small high schools and fewer need to attend an expensive fifth year of high school.

What Are Small Schools of Choice?

Small schools of choice (SSCs) — a term coined by the researchers to emphasize the fact that these nonselective schools are open to and chosen by students of all academic levels — are more than just small. They were developed and approved through a competitive proposal process administered by the New York City Department of Education and designed to stimulate innovative ideas for new schools by a range of stakeholders and institutions, from educators to school reform organizations, led in part by New Visions for Public Schools and including the Urban Assembly, the Institute for Student Achievement, the College Board, and others. The resulting schools emphasize academic rigor; strong, sustained relationships between students and faculty; and community partnerships to offer relevant learning opportunities outside the classroom. Each SSC also received start-up funding as well as assistance and policy support from the district and other key players to facilitate leadership development, hiring, and implementation. These reform efforts were supported by a consortium of funders, led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Open Society Foundations, and were implemented in collaboration with the United Federation of Teachers and the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. Prior research by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools suggests that teachers and principals at SSCs strongly believe that academic rigor and personal relationships with students contribute to the effectiveness of their schools.

How Was the Study Conducted?

As noted above, the study takes advantage of lottery-like features in New York City’s high school admissions process. Each year, NYC eighth-graders are required to select in rank order of priority up to 12 high schools that they want to attend; when an SSC has more applicants than spaces, the district’s High School Application Processing System uses a randomized process to break ties and assign students to the SSC or to another school in the district from each student’s list of preferences. This analysis examines lotteries that occurred in 84 of the 123 SSCs and provides the basis for an unusually large and rigorous study of the effects of enrolling in SSCs on students’ academic achievement; the study tracks more than 12,000 students in SSCs and other high schools in New York City. The study does not compare the SSCs to the large, failing high schools they replaced but, rather, to the other public high schools operating in the reform-rich atmosphere in New York City.

MDRC’s study is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All publications from the study, including the new one, Headed to College: The Effects of New York City’s Small High Schools of Choice on Postsecondary Enrollment by Rebecca Unterman, are available on MDRC’s website.

Contact: John Hutchins, Communications Director, 212-340-8604, john.hutchins@mdrc.org, or Farhana Hossain, 212-340-4505, farhana.hossain@mdrc.org.                                                                                               http://www.mdrc.org/news/press-release/new-findings-show-new-york-city-s-small-high-schools-boost-college-enrollment

There are pros and cons to attending a small school.

Kristen Bevilacqua wrote about Pros and Cons of Small High Schools:


Class sizes are usually smaller at small high schools. With fewer students in a class, students get more personal attention from their teachers. Shy students may feel more comfortable participating and asking questions and in more intimate class settings.

Fewer students equal fewer cliques. The atmosphere at small schools encourages close friendships since classmates get to know each other better than they would with thousands of peers in the same building. There is no opportunity to be anonymous, so students are more accountable to themselves. I knew the name of every student in my graduating class and the classes below me when I graduated from high school.


Large high schools tend to have a more diverse student body. While smaller schools may foster an atmosphere for close friendships, it is less likely that their students will be exposed to as many different ethnicities and cultures as their large school counterparts.

With diversity comes differences. A small and less diverse school does not introduce students to various and opposing opinions. For students’ budding minds, the exploration of all ideas is important for their development and self-discovery.

Although there may be less competition for Editor of the school newspaper or yearbook, the choices for extra curricular activities are more limited at a small high school. For example, my high school did not have any sports teams. If one of my classmates would have liked to play competitive sports, she would have had to join a league or group not affiliated with our school – not as convenient as playing on your school team.

The facilities can also be limited as a small school. They may not have a gymnasium, or functioning cafeteria; if there is a science lab it is probably shared by all grades studying different sciences…..                     http://www.educationspace360.com/index.php/pros-and-cons-of-small-high-schools-3-14879/

The MDRC study emphasizes there should be no one size fits all in education.

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‘Peer Counseling’ in schools

28 Apr

Moi wrote about a high school support program in Helping troubled children: The ‘Reconnecting Youth Program’:
Many children arrive at school with mental health and social issues. In School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children:

Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University wrote the article, School psychologists: Shortage amid increased need which discusses the need for psychological support in schools.
The adolescent suicide rate continues to rise, with each suicide a dramatic reminder that the lives of a significant number of adolescents are filled with anxiety and stress. Most schools have more than a handful of kids wrestling with significant emotional problems, and schools at all levels face an ongoing challenge related to school violence and bullying, both physical and emotional.
Yet in many schools there is inadequate professional psychological support for students.
Although statistics indicate that there is a significant variation from state to state (between 2005- and 2011 the ratio of students per school psychologist in New Mexico increased by 180%, while in the same period the ratio decreased in Utah by 34%), the overall ratio is 457:1. That is almost twice that recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP).
THE NASP noted a shortage of almost 9,000 school psychologists in 2010 and projected a cumulative shortage of close to 15,000 by 2020. Mental Health America estimates that only 1 in 5 children in need of mental health services actually receive the needed services. These gross statistics also omit the special need of under funded schools and the increased roles school psychologists are being asked to play….
Even with the psychological services that should be provided and often aren’t, schools can’t fully prevent suicides, acts of violence, bullying, or the daily stresses that weigh on kids shoulders. The malaise runs deeper and broader.
Still schools need more resources than they receive in order to provide more programs that actively identify and counsel those kids that need help. At the very least, they need to alleviate some of the stress these kids are experiencing and to help improve the quality of their daily lives. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/school-psychologists-shortage-amid-increased-need/2012/02/26/gIQAU7psdR_blog.html

It is important to deal with the psychological needs of children because untreated depression can lead to suicide. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/ In addition to psychological programs, schools can offer other resources to help students succeed in school and in life.

Rebecca Jones of Ed News Colorado wrote about the Reconnecting Youth Program in the article, Reconnecting Youth program boosts teens.
http://www.ednewscolorado.org/2012/10/30/51106-reconnecting-youth-program-boosts-teens https://drwilda.com/2012/10/30/helping-troubled-children-the-reconnecting-youth-program/
Another model many schools are trying is peer counseling.

Evie Blad reported in the Education Week article, Schools Explore Benefits of Peer Counseling about peer counseling:

Schools in Baltimore, New York City, New Jersey, and North Carolina have used the program—created by the Princeton, N.J.-based Center for Supportive Schools—to boost attendance, academic persistence, and graduation rates.
At a time when schools are increasingly recognizing the important role social and emotional factors can play in academic success, leaders are wasting a valuable resource if they don’t enlist energetic students to help their peers, said Daniel F. Oscar, the president and chief executive officer of the Center for Supportive Schools.
“It becomes a very positive feedback loop where, by the act of helping the school out, that older student is in fact deepening his or her own education,” Mr. Oscar said. “Leadership is increasingly something that we don’t only expect from the person who has the top title in an organization. It’s something we expect from everyone.”
A study by researchers at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. published in the Journal of Educational Research found that Peer Group Connection had notable success raising graduation rates for Latino males.
Promising Signs
In a randomized control study, researchers tracked four-year graduation rates for 268 participating students at a high-poverty, mid-Atlantic, urban high school that is not named in the study. Of the program’s participants, 77 percent graduated high school in four years, compared with 68 percent of their nonparticipating peers. Latino males in the experimental group had an 81 percent graduation rate, compared to 63 percent in the control group.
Peer Group Connection is more successful than some other peer-mentoring efforts because it is integrated into the school day, incorporates several meetings with students’ families to reinforce lessons and supports, and requires buy-in from principals and teachers before a school implements the program, the researchers wrote.
The program employs a “train the trainer” model under which juniors and seniors complete a yearlong, credit-bearing leadership course where they practice group exercises and discussions. Older students also meet once a week with younger students to complete the exercises they practiced in class.
The class is led by teachers who received extensive training on the program, primarily through an 11-day course and a retreat with Center for Supportive Schools staff.
That training helps prepare teachers for a level of honesty they might not typically experience with students, said Sherry Barr, the vice president of the organization.
“When they go through it themselves and experience what it means to them to break down some of those barriers, that’s a very powerful experience,” Ms. Barr said. “They sort of leave transformed in the sense that they really want to have that experience with their students.”
As those teachers work with peer mentors in training, those discussions—often centered on experiences that can form hurdles for school completion and persistence—can be emotional.
On an April afternoon in Baltimore, peer leaders at the Academy for College and Career Exploration practiced how they would react to various text messages from peers, including nude photos and an angry message from a friend. Would they forward the photos to others? Would they respond to anger with anger?
“Keep it real,” teacher Candice Boone told senior Jada Davis, urging her to avoid simply telling adults in the room what she thought they’d want to hear about how she would respond to the hypothetical angry text message.
“You know I am,” Ms. Davis said, admitting that she “most likely would be going back and forth” with her friend if she got such a message.
Students also discussed the way girls are bullied and teased if they send a nude photo to a boyfriend, only to have it circulating on social media the next day. It’s a side of students teachers don’t always see, Ms. Boone said…. http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/04/23/29peerconnection.h33.html

The Center for Supportive Schools is one of the primary providers of training for peer counselors.

Here is what the Center for Supportive Schools says about Peer Counseling.

Peer Group Connection (PGC)
Through Peer Group Connection (PGC), CSS trains school faculty to teach leadership courses to select groups of older students, who in turn educate and support younger students. Our goal is to help schools enable and inspire young people to become engaged leaders who positively influence their peers. The CSS peer-to-peer student leadership model taps into schools’ most underutilized resources – students – and enlists them in strengthening the educational offerings of a school while simultaneously advancing their own learning, growth, and development.
Transition to High School
High School Juniors and Seniors Supporting Freshmen in Their Transition to High School
Peer Group Connection (PGC) for High Schools is an evidence-based program that supports and eases students’ successful transition from middle to high school. The program taps into the power of high school juniors and seniors to create a nurturing environment for incoming freshmen. Once per week, pairs of junior and senior peer leaders meet with groups of 10-14 freshmen in outreach sessions designed to strengthen relationships among students across grades. These peer leaders are simultaneously enrolled in a daily, for-credit, year-long leadership course taught by school faculty during regular school hours. PGC is CSS’s seminal peer leadership program, and has been implemented with a 70% sustainability rate in more than 175 high schools since 1979. A recently released, four-year longitudinal, randomized-control study conducted by Rutgers University and funded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services found that, among other major results, PGC improves the graduation rates of student participants in an inner city public school by ten percentage points and cuts by half the number of male students who would otherwise drop out.

Not all are supportive of peer counseling.

Andrew S. Latham wrote in the 1997 Education Leadership article, Research Link / Peer Counseling Proceed with Caution:

One of Lewis and Lewis’s concerns is that students serving as peer counselors are increasingly being asked to shoulder a burden that should be overseen only by trained, seasoned professionals. In a sobering study, the two researchers compared suicide rates among schools with no peer-led suicide-prevention program; schools with peer-led prevention programs overseen by a noncounselor (for example, a teacher or building administrator); and schools with peer-led prevention programs overseen by a certified counselor, psychologist, or social worker. Shockingly, the 38 schools with the noncounselor-led peer programs had the highest ratio of student suicides: Between 1991 and 1993, 11 of those 38 schools (29 percent) reported at least one suicide, as opposed to 7 of 55 schools (13 percent) with no prevention program at all, and just 5 of 65 schools (8 percent) with a counselor-led peer program….
Although Lewis and Lewis focus on suicide-prevention programs, we can extend this argument to other health and safety issues teens face, such as AIDS and drug and alcohol abuse. As teens confront the problems of the 1990s, they want concrete advice, not just an empathetic listener. Morey and colleagues (1993) confirmed this fact when they used a stepwise regression to identify factors that contribute to students’ satisfaction with peer counseling. Two such factors were “empathy and problem identification” and “empathy and problem solving,” indicating that students want help from peers who are willing to listen and understand their problems, and who can suggest ways to address those problems.
Professional Support Is Critical
These studies point to the need for students to receive extensive training and professional support both before and throughout their work with their peers. If such support is given, peer programs have tremendous potential.
A case in point: O’Hara and colleagues (1996) studied the effects of a student-led AIDS prevention program in an alternative school for at-risk youth. Following an initial interview, the peer counselors were trained over the course of eight weeks, including five classroom sessions, two retreats, and a trip to a local clinic for sexually transmitted diseases. Peer counselors with attendance problems were dropped from the program. Those who successfully completed the program then conducted two carefully structured large-group sessions with their peers, followed by two small-group sessions and various schoolwide activities. The results were impressive: pre- and post-intervention student surveys revealed that the number of students who intended to use condoms each time they had sex rose from 55 to 65 percent, while those reporting they had never used a condom dropped from 15 to 4 percent.
The lesson from these examples is that peer-led programs must be adopted carefully, particularly when dealing with the high-stakes problems that many teenagers face today. In fact, professional intervention may be preferable to peer support for potentially lethal issues, such as teen suicide…. http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct97/vol55/num02/Peer-Counseling@-Proceed-with-Caution.aspx

For research on peer counseling programs, see http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/cg/rh/counseffective.asp

Our goal as a society should be:

A healthy child in a healthy family who attends a healthy school in a healthy neighborhood ©


Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children

Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools’

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Helping middle school students succeed in high school: ‘Countdown to High School’

21 Nov

Education.com posted the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s article, Teens and Middle School:

The transition to middle school is a major life event for parents and youth.
Students worry about:
• Getting to class on time;
• Finding lockers, classes, and bathrooms;
• Keeping up with the work; and
• Getting through the crowded halls.
Students may also be struggling with concerns about:
• Aggressive or violent behavior from other students;
• Less connection with their parents;
• Less free time;
• Attractiveness and peer status;
• Physical development differences between males and females;
• Increasing peer pressure;
• Development changes associated with puberty;
• Increased parental expectations; and
• More responsibility.
All of this is normal and the best thing you can do for yourself is to talk about your feelings, fears, and thoughts with your friends, family, parents, or other caring adults. You are not alone – other youth your age are dealing with these same concerns….http://www.education.com/reference/article/teens-middle-school/

Some school districts are trying to ease the transition from elementary school to middle school to high school.

Suzi Parker of Takepart wrote in the article, High School Success May Depend on Lessons Middle Schools Don’t Teach:

Leaving middle school for high school can be a scary time for teenagers. Scarier than they even know.
Not only do ninth graders suddenly have more responsibility, more homework, and more life stress, without much guidance on how to cope, but high school is when the dropout risk looms largest.
Countdown to High School, a Boston program, is trying to aleviate some of this stress for teenagers and help keep them in school.
The program began a few years ago when Neema Avashia, a civics teacher at Boston’s McCormack Middle School, along with a few other educators, realized that kids, even high-performing kids, were desperately struggling in their first year of high school….
The program, based on national and local research, began as a pilot program for middle and high school teachers with funding in six schools. In two years, the program grew to 34 schools. Then last year, the funding ended, and the group had to rethink their model. Now, Countdown to High School is a three-hour stand-alone graduate course that 50 teachers in Boston have participated in so far.
For students, the program begins at the end of 8th grade when trained teachers present a series of lessons that address issues 9th graders grapple with.
In Boston, like in many U.S. cities, students don’t have to attend a school near their home but rather can choose where they want to go. In many instances, students have to participate in a lottery process. Other schools make students pass exams. Some pilot schools require students write essays and obtain letters of recommendation. It’s a complicated process without much guidance, Avashia says. So her program helps kids through it.
Once they know where they’re going, students are asked find the quickest public transportation route to their school. They are made familiar with the websites where this information is found. They also talk about scheduling and decide on a wake-up time.
GPA is another issue the curriculum covers. One student in a video short about Countdown to High School sums it up by saying, “Don’t be so caught up in friends. Don’t hangout in the hallways. Students do that, I mean that’s the first thing they do. Stay on top of your schoolwork from the beginning. A lot of people decide to slack freshman year and say, ‘Oh I have two or three more years up until I become a senior and that’s when I can start building.’ But think about GPA. Your GPA has to be good from the beginning, not just the middle of the year.” In Countdown to High School, students are taught how to correctly calculate a GPA and are told how truancy can negatively affect it.
The program also asks kids to be real with themselves if they begin to miss classes. They are encouraged to ask themselves about why they are cutting—is it that they’re not waking up early enough or that their friends are pressuring them or that they just don’t feel comfortable in that class, or in school in general? Countdown gives them tools to make relationships with teachers and deal with any of these scenarios.
After middle school graduation the students are greeted by similar lessons as they begin 9th grade. This ensures that students are thinking in advance about how to deal with the new challenges as they begin their high school careers.
But it’s not all left up to educators. Avashia says many times parents also don’t know where to turn to help and teachers may not know the answers. That’s why the course also requires teachers to write a school plan memo that includes how families will be meaningfully engaged in the choice and transition process.
Transition programs for students or teachers are rare in the United States. Washington has one called “Project Graduation” that includes a “Gear Up” component to identify 7th- and 8th-grade students needing help and a four- to six-week summer program to help them. Hawaii has a plan to help 9th-grade students receive the instructional and support services they need to complete high school, including tutoring and academic summer camps….http://news.yahoo.com/high-school-success-may-depend-lessons-middle-schools-195823440.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory
Here is information about Countdown to High School:
Welcome to the Countdown to High School Wiki!
The Countdown to High School (CD2HS) initiative is a program designed to support 8th and 9th grade students in Boston Public Schools (BPS) as they make the transition to high school. This website is filled with curriculum and materials you can use to help 8th and 9th grade students with this transition. The CD2HS initiative is run by BPS teachers and administrators who are continually revising and updating materials. Please review all materials prior to using them to ensure they are adapted to your school’s needs.
We always welcome feedback: cd2hsboston@gmail.com
What is Countdown to High School?
CD2HS is run by teachers and administrators in BPS. We propose a series of interventions to facilitate the transition to high school, thereby reducing student failure and increasing the likelihood that students will go on to complete the college application process four years later. We firmly believe that students are entitled to clear, consistent support structures as they make one of the most important decisions and transitions of their educational careers.
We intend to provide support to students on both ends of the transition–8th graders who are in the process of deciding what high school to go to, and 9th grade students who are entering new schools, and trying to navigate the transition.
Why is there a need for such a program?
A recent Boston Public Schools-commissioned report showed that only 53% of high school students at Boston’s non-exam schools make it through high school in four years; about three out of four of the students who don’t graduate in four years ultimately drop out. Importantly, this study pointed to the 8th and 9th grade years as critical ones in predicting whether students graduate.
Having over 30 high schools to choose from, all with different themes, different services, different class sizes, different application processes, and different academic outcomes can prove to be an overwhelming decision for middle school students and their families, particularly given the lack of readily available information about the schools
Even after students have chosen a high school, there continue to be challenges inherent in the transition such as: transportation, attendance, change in academic expectations, lack of structured afterschool time, decreased communication as students get older, and appropriate school match.
Here is a list of topics addressed at the site:
1. home
2. 8th Grade Lessons
3. 8th Grade Resources
4. 9th Grade Lessons
5. 9th Grade Resources
6. Calendar
7. Family Resources
8. Graduate Course 2012-2013
9. Meeting Handouts
10. Surveys
11. Transition Coordinator Information

RAND’s policy brief, Problems and Promise of the American Middle School details the issues students face in middle school:

Today in the United States, nearly nine million students attend public “middle schools” — schools that serve as an intermediary phase between elementary school and high school, typically consisting of grades 6-8. The middle school years represent a critical time for young teens. Middle schools have been blamed for the increase in student behavior problems and cited as the cause of teens’ alienation, disengagement from school, and low achievement.
What are America’s middle schools really like? RAND Education researchers undertook a comprehensive assessment of the American middle school, made particularly timely and important by the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), which emphasizes test-based accountability and sanctions for failing schools. The researchers describe their findings in Focus on the Wonder Years: Challenges Facing the American Middle School. The RAND Corporation report includes some practical advice about how to deal with the challenges middle schools face and proposes a research agenda that might yield additional information for improving the schools.
The State of the American Middle School
In the 1980s, reformers endorsed a new middle school “concept” intended to change the traditional junior high school to create an educational experience more appropriate for young adolescents. The goal was to make the old junior high more developmentally responsive by changing the grade configuration from grades 7-8 or 7-9 to grades 6-8 and introducing new organizational and instructional practices (e.g., interdisciplinary team teaching).
Today, many schools are organized around the 6-8 configuration, and the well-being of middle school students generates tremendous interest from committed educators, innovative reformers, and private foundations. However, in spite of these well-intentioned improvement efforts, middle schools do not yet fully serve the needs of young teens, and several challenges remain. RAND’s main findings and recommendations are summarized below.
Separating the Middle Grades Is Associated with Transition Problems
The history of reform indicates that a separate middle school has become the norm more because of societal and demographic pressures than because of scientific evidence supporting the need for a separate school for young teens. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that separate schools and the transitions they require can cause problems that negatively affect students’ developmental and academic progress. RAND recommends that, over the coming years, states and school districts consider alternatives to the 6-8 structure to reduce multiple transitions for students and allow schools to better align their goals across grades K-12.
Progress on Academic Outcomes Is Uneven
Data show slow but steady increases in achievement scores since the 1970s. However, about 70 percent of American 8th-grade public-school students fail to reach proficient levels of performance in reading, mathematics, and science on national achievement tests. This is particularly true for Latinos and African Americans, who continue to lag behind their white counterparts, even when their parents have had college educations. We recommend adoption of various forms of supplemental services that have been proven effective for the lowest-performing students, including summer school programs before 6th grade and additional reading and math courses after 6th grade.
Conditions for Learning Are Sub optimal
Conditions for learning are factors that can enhance or diminish a student’s ability to learn. Particularly relevant to young teens are motivational and social-emotional indicators of well-being that are related to academic performance. Disengagement and social alienation not only are related to low achievement but also predict dropping out. National school safety statistics suggest that physical conflict is especially problematic in middle schools, and student concerns about safety predict emotional distress that can compromise academic performance. Such findings underscore the need to examine a variety of student outcomes in addition to academic indicators. Schools need to adopt comprehensive prevention models (e.g., school wide anti bullying programs) that focus on changing the social norms that foster antisocial behavior.
The Vision of the Middle School Has Not Been Fully Implemented
The continuing lackluster performance of middle schools might also be explained, in part, by inadequate implementation of the middle school concept in most districts and schools.[1] Core practices such as interdisciplinary team teaching and advisory programs tend to be weakly implemented with little attention to the underlying goals. A sufficient level of fidelity to many of the reform practices is not possible without substantial additional attention, resources, and long-term support.
Middle School Teachers and Principals Lack Appropriate Training and Support
Many middle school teachers do not have a major, minor, or certification in the subjects they teach or training in the development of young adolescents. Evidence-based models of professional development for teachers should be adopted to improve the subject-area expertise and the pedagogical skills of teachers.
Principals face similar training issues, in addition to another challenge: Disciplinary issues increase a principal’s workload and can decrease the time and effort the individual has to spend on other leadership functions. Different management approaches need to be considered that permit principals to delegate their managerial duties and foster a school climate that is conducive to teaching and learning.
Parental Support Wanes
Research shows that parental involvement declines as students progress through school and that middle schools do less than elementary schools do to engage parents. Middle schools should provide information about school practices and offer concrete suggestions for activities that parents and teens can do together at home.
New Reform Models Show Promise
Our review of whole-school reforms and professional development practices identified some promising models that address both academic achievement and the development needs of young teens. If fully implemented, these models might propel our schools forward toward the high levels of achievement that are the goal of NCLB.
Looking Ahead
Today’s emphasis on higher standards (such as those NCLB articulates) and on increased accountability through academic testing poses at least two challenges for middle schools. First, as legislation focused solely on academic achievement outcomes holds greater sway, the developmental needs of children might take second place, even though the two are highly interrelated. Second, it is unclear whether adequate federal and state supports are available for schools and students to meet the new standards. Regardless of the nature and scope of the next middle-grade reform efforts, state and federal support is needed at this time, and the efforts of various agencies, organizations, and foundations should be well coordinated. Continuity of effort is likely to provide the right conditions for student growth, institutional improvement, and educational progress. While NCLB creates a feeling of urgency, that urgency should be translated into steady, reasoned attempts to improve the schooling of all our young teens.
[1] R. D. Felner, A. W. Jackson, D. Kasak, P. Mulhall, S. Brand, and N. Flowers, “The Impact of School Reform for the Middle Years: Longitudinal Study of a Network Engaged in Turning Points-Based Comprehensive School Transformation,” Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 78, No. 7, 1997, pp. 528-550, and R. Williamson and J. H. Johnston, “Challenging Orthodoxy: An Emerging Agenda for Middle Level Reform,” Middle School Journal, March 1999, pp. 10-17.
View the print-friendly version: PDF

Request a printed copy: Order Now
This product is part of the RAND Corporation research brief series. RAND research briefs present policy-oriented summaries of individual published, peer-reviewed documents or of a body of published work.
This research brief describes work done for RAND Education documented in Focus on the Wonder Years: Challenges Facing the American Middle School by Jaana Juvonen, Vi-Nhuan Le, Tessa Kaganoff, Catherine Augustine, and Louay Constant, MG-139-EDU (available online), 2004, 152 pages, ISBN: 0-8330-3390-5. It is also available from RAND Distribution Services (phone: 310-451-7002; toll free in the U.S.: 877-584-8642).
Copyright © 2004 RAND Corporation
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit research organization providing objective analysis and effective solutions that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors around the world. RAND’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.

See, How to Prepare Your Tween for the Middle School Transition http://www.parentmap.com/article/how-to-prepare-your-tween-for-the-middle-school-transition

PBS Kids has some great information for parents at It’s My Life. http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/school/middleschool/
Some kids need more support than others, but most will require some support in making the transition to middle school.

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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/

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Do intense high school programs help students?

22 Jul

Catherine Gewertz reports in the Education Week article, High School Rigor Narrows College-Success Gap

Students from some racial- and ethnic-minority groups and those from low-income families enroll in college and succeed there at lower rates than their white, wealthier peers. But a new study suggests that if teenagers are adequately prepared for college during high school, those gaps close substantially.

The “Mind the Gaps” study, by ACT, draws on the Iowa City, Iowa-based testmaker’s earlier research showing that taking a strong core curriculum in high school and meeting benchmark scores in all four subjects of the ACT college-entrance exam enhance students’ chances of enrolling in college, persisting there for a second year, earning good grades, and obtaining a two- or four-year degree.

The ACT defines a college-ready curriculum as four years of English, and at least three each of mathematics, science, and social studies. The study found that “college-ready” scores on the ACT exam correlate with earning good grades in entry-level, credit-bearing college courses. Fewer than one-quarter of students currently meet those benchmarks in all four subject areas of the exam, however. (“Rate of Minorities Taking ACT Continues to Rise,” Aug. 25, 2010.)

A lot of the foundation for success in high school is built by a solid grounding in the basics during elementary school and that is where we are failing a lot of children.

Joel Vargas has an excellent article in Education Week, Early-College High Schools: ‘Why Not Do It for All the Kids?’

Hidalgo, Texas, has one of the most successful school systems in the United States. The dropout rate is nearly zero, and the high school regularly lands on a top-school list published by U.S. News & World Report. Last June, when members of the high school graduating class crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, 95 percent of them could proudly point to their college credits as well. Two-thirds of the graduating seniors had earned at least a full semester of credits toward a college degree.

It’s time for the nation to pay attention when any community boasts results like these. These are especially remarkable in one of the most economically depressed areas of the United States, just across the Rio Grande River from Mexico, with one of the lowest number of college-educated adults. Nine out of 10 students in the high school are considered economically disadvantaged, 99.5 percent are Hispanic, and 53 percent entered with limited proficiency in English.

The story of Hidalgo is not only one of success, but of turning around an entire school district. In the late 1980s, student achievement in Hidalgo ranked in the bottom 10 percent in Texas. But local leaders took giant steps to improve student performance, and they gained support from every segment of the surrounding community. Over the next two decades, everyone—from bus drivers to principals, from teachers to school board members—began to focus on doing what it takes to raise the achievement levels of all 3,500 young people in the Hidalgo schools.

You can’t be afraid of change,” says school board President Martin Cepeda. “It starts from the superintendent all the way to the custodians. … Everybody counts. Everybody.”

One key to the turnaround came when Daniel King, the superintendent of the school district at the time, enlisted four partners: the University of Texas-Pan American, the University of Texas System, the Communities Foundation of Texas/Texas High School Project, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together, the partnership formulated an innovative plan to create an “early-college high school.”

Over the next two decades, everyone—from bus drivers to principals, from teachers to school board members—began to focus on doing what it takes to raise the achievement levels of all 3,500 young people in the Hidalgo schools.”

The early-college design is a vehicle for providing traditionally underserved students with an opportunity to earn a substantial number of college credits along with a high school diploma. Students spend fewer years and less money achieving a college credential. Hidalgo took this cutting-edge idea and extended it: By embedding a college and career culture in everyday activities, from elementary school through middle school and into high school, the school system motivates all of its students to believe that they can and will go on to postsecondary education.

The Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University has an interesting report by Katherine L. Hughes, Olga Rodriguez, Linsey Edwards, and Clive Belfield

Here are the policy recommendations of Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment:

Policy Recommendations

Policymakers and community leaders can build on the lessons learned from the Concurrent Courses initiative and further reduce the barriers to program development and student participation. Based on the experience and outcomes attained in high schools and colleges across California, here are three high-value recommendations for state policymakers.

Remove funding penalties: To encourage dual enrollment, California should adopt a “hold harmless” funding model for dual enrollment, in which neither participating institution loses any ofits per-pupil funding for dually-enrolled students. State policy should also require, rather than allow, colleges to waive student fees.

Make dual credit earning consistent and portable: State policy should mandate that dualenrollment students automatically earn dual credit — both high school and college credit — forcollege courses they complete. In addition, a statewide system that facilitates the portability of college credits would ease student transfer and help ensure that students do not repeat courses theyhave already taken. This would benefit all California college students.

Standardize broad student eligibility: At present, California policy sets no statewide academic

eligibility criteria for dual enrollment participation but stipulates that participating colleges may do so. Following the standard of student eligibility for community colleges, the state should encourage broad access and prevent students from being disqualified by grades or test scores alone. The experience of dual enrollment implementation partners leads to five recommendations for institutions.

Continue to make dual enrollment available on both the high school and college campuses.Courses on the college campus provide a fuller and more authentic college experience; college opportunities must also be available at high school for students who lack transportation.

Explore ways to ensure authenticity of the high school-based program format. Courses delivered at high school must have the same rigor and quality as college campus-based courses, andstudents must be held to the same standards of achievement as those in campus-based programs.

Provide professional development to dual enrollment instructors. High school teachers mayneed greater assistance in creating a college-like atmosphere, and college instructors may need insights into scaffolding and other pedagogical strategies to support high school students.

Identify dedicated college staff to smooth logistical challenges. In particular, colleges should identify a student services staff member knowledgeable about and responsible for registration of dual enrollment students.

Obtain student consent to share college records. High school administrators and counselors need to be aware of how students are doing in their college coursework; monitoring progress is essential to providing needed interventions.          http://www.concurrentcourses.org/files/CCI_policy_brief_2012jul16.pdf


Broadening the Benefits of Dual Enrollment

By: Katherine L. Hughes, Olga Rodriguez, Linsey Edwards & Clive Belfield — July 2012. New York: Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University

This study suggests that career-focused dual enrollment programs—in which high school students take college courses for credit—can benefit underachieving students and those underrepresented in higher education. The study found that California students who participated in dual enrollment as part of their high school career pathway were more likely than similar students in their districts to graduate from high school, enroll in four-year colleges, and persist in college. They also accumulated more college credits and were less likely to take remedial classes. The three-year study, funded by The James Irvine Foundation, examined the outcomes of almost 3,000 students participating in eight dual enrollment programs across California. Sixty percent of participants were students of color, forty percent came from non-English speaking homes, and one third had parents with no prior college experience.
–A practitioner brief and a policy brief are available at:

–Read the technical report at: http://www.postsecondaryresearch.org/index.html?Id=News&Info=New+NCPR+Working+Paper+on+Outcomes+for+Dual+Enrollment+Students.

As with anything there are pros and cons for each student regarding whether a dual enrollment program should be part of their school experience.

Studypoint has a great article, Dual Enrollment Programs: The Pros and Cons:

There are a number of benefits to dual-enrollment programs. Earning college credit while still in high school sounds like a dream for many students. In addition, these programs introduce students to the rigors of college coursework early, and recent studies have shown that students who participate in dual-enrollment programs are more likely go on to get a college degree. But is dual enrollment right for your child?

Why Should My Child Consider a Dual-Enrollment Program?

  • Dual enrollment gives students an idea of what full-time college coursework will be like, says ecampustours.com. By trying out a few classes while still in high school, your child can get used to the academic environment before he or she leaves the comfort and support of home.
  • Your child may be able to take classes that aren’t offered at his or her high school.
  • College courses can give your student a closer look at his or her area of academic interest. If your child is currently loving AP history, a college course next year on the Civil War or the Great Depression will help him or her explore that period in greater depth and precision.
  • According to collegeboard.com, most students change their majors at least once. Taking a college class as a high school senior can help your child find his or her area of interest before the pressure is on to declare a major.
  • If your student didn’t qualify to take AP courses, or if those courses weren’t available at your child’s high school, taking a college-level class will help him or her demonstrate the ability to handle more difficult coursework, according to ecampustours.com. This ability is something every college admissions officer wants to see.
  • Due to the large number of online and virtual classes offered by many schools, dual-enrollment courses may be conducted right at your child’s high school, says ecampustours.com. Ask your student’s guidance counselor about dual-enrollment options in your area.
  • Perhaps the biggest benefit of dual enrollment is that your student may start accumulating college credits, helping him or her graduate on time or even early.

Dual Enrollment Sounds Great! Is There Any Reason My Child Shouldn’t Participate?

  • If a course is already available at your child’s school, it might be best to take it there. Colleges may wonder why a student has chosen to take an intro class at a community college if there’s an AP class in the same subject available at the high school level. (High school AP classes may well prove more challenging than an intro-level college course.) If the college course won’t give your student something above and beyond what’s available at his or her high school, take a pass.
  • If a college class will interfere with your child’s regular coursework or extracurriculars, it may not be a good idea. A college course should enhance a student’s resume, but not at the expense of other resume-enhancing activities. When considering scheduling, be sure to take into account not just the normal class schedule but breaks as well, cautions Nevada’s Great Basin College; your local high school and community college may not operate on the same academic calendar. A different holiday schedule could cause conflicts with class trips, family vacations, or out-of-town athletic commitments.
  • A college course in music appreciation is a great resume booster—as long as your child plans to go into music. If he or she is planning a career in chemistry, the music class won’t help, and could raise questions about the academic rigor of your child’s senior year courses. Carefully consider the academic value of any class your child is considering.
  • Dual-enrollment courses are real college courses for real college credit; the grades will go on your student’s permanent record. Before enrolling, make sure your student is ready for the demanding work a college class will require, or it could hurt his or her chances at college acceptance down the line, recommends Florida’s Valencia Community College. Furthermore, if a student fails a dual-enrollment course, it could mean he or she won’t graduate high school on time.
  • If your child is considering a dual-enrollment program for the purpose of earning college credits, be sure of the value of the credits. For each college where your child may apply next year, check to see how many credits (if any) a dual-enrollment class would earn your child. The credit policy will depend on the school.

Where Should We Start?

  • Rules for dual-enrollment eligibility vary from state to state, so students should check with their high school guidance counselors to find out if they qualify, says ecampustours.com. Usually, students must be at least 16 years old and have a GPA of at least 2.5; they may also have to take placement tests. Students will also need permission from parents/guardians and a guidance counselor or principal.
  • Your child’s guidance counselor will also be able to provide information about financial obligations. Many states pay for dual enrollment; in other states, students must pay. http://www.studypoint.com/ed/dual-enrollment/

In The GED as a door to the future, moi said:

This world is in a period of dislocation and upheaval as great as the period of dislocation which ushered in the “industrial revolution.” The phrase “new, new thing” comes from a book by Michael Lewis about innovation in Silicon Valley. This historical period is between “new, new things” as the economy hopes that some new innovator will harness “green technology” and make it commercially viable as the economy needs the jump that only a “new, new thing” will give it. Peter S. Goodman has a fascinating article in the New York Times, Millions of Unemployed Face Years Without Jobs

Unless, children are given a meaningful education which provides them with basic skills to adapt to a changing environment, the education system is producing a permanent underclass which will not be able to participate in the next “new, new thing. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/the-ged-as-a-door-to-the-future/


Dual enrollment may not benefit every student http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/30867913/ns/today-parenting_and_family/t/dual-enrollment-may-not-benefit-every-student/#.UAw88JFDS1R

Do high school dual-enrollment/AP classes push kids too far ahead in college? http://blogs.ajc.com/momania/2012/05/17/do-high-school-dual-enrollmentap-classes-push-kids-too-far-ahead-in-college/

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

A B.A., not a high school diploma is the new threshold degree

7 Feb

Laura Pappano reports in the New York Times article, The Master’s As the New Bachelor’s

Call it credential inflation. Once derided as the consolation prize for failing to finish a Ph.D. or just a way to kill time waiting out economic downturns, the master’s is now the fastest-growing degree. The number awarded, about 657,000 in 2009, has more than doubled since the 1980s, and the rate of increase has quickened substantially in the last couple of years, says Debra W. Stewart, president of the Council of Graduate Schools. Nearly 2 in 25 people age 25 and over have a master’s, about the same proportion that had a bachelor’s or higher in 1960.

Several years ago it became very clear to us that master’s education was moving very rapidly to become the entry degree in many professions,” Dr. Stewart says. The sheen has come, in part, because the degrees are newly specific and utilitarian. These are not your general master’s in policy or administration. Even the M.B.A., observed one business school dean, “is kind of too broad in the current environment.” Now, you have the M.S. in supply chain management, and in managing mission-driven organizations. There’s an M.S. in skeletal and dental bioarchaeology, and an M.A. in learning and thinking.

The Pew Research Center has a report, Is College Worth It? Amanda Paulson of the Christian Science Monitor has a great article, Does Everyone Need A College Degree? Maybe Not Says Harvard Study about a new Harvard study.   

A new report released by Harvard Wednesday states in some of the strongest terms yet that such a “college for all” emphasis may actually harm many American students – keeping them from having a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood and a viable career.

The American system for preparing young people to lead productive and prosperous lives as adults is clearly badly broken,” concludes the report, “Pathways to Prosperity” (pdf).

Harvard has quite a bit of press about the report. Jill Anderson has written the press release, Pathways to Prosperity Seeks to Redefine the American Education System which is at the Harvard site. The point of the report is whether there should be a variety of post-high school paths and not just the focus on a B.A. Still, there should be post-high school training which would provide additional skills.

Alexander Eichler is reporting in the Huffington Post article, Many With Only High School Degree Laid Off During Weak Recover:

Among those Americans with only a high school degree who have lost a job since 2007, a third became unemployed after the official end of the recession, according to The Washington Post.

It’s a troubling statistic in its own right — job seekers without a college degree are having serious difficulty finding work in the current market, and the unemployment rate for high school graduates is more than twice that of college grads — but it also underscores the fact that, for many Americans, the recovery hasn’t felt very different from the recession that preceded it.

Economists consider the Great Recession to have ended in the summer of 2009, nearly three years ago. That’s the point when the economy stopped outright shrinking and began growing again. But the subsequent period of modest expansion has been marked by job cuts, uncertainty and a gradual erosion of financial security for many Americans. These conditions are expected to remain pronounced for a long time to come.

U.S. employers cut 529,973 jobs in 2010, according to the outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas. In 2011, that number rose to 606,082. At the same time, wages and benefits barely grew, with the high jobless rate giving employers little incentive to pay workers more. Today, there are still nearly 13 million Americans looking for work.

It’s not that life has gotten much better for those with a job either. All together, median household incomes have now fallen more in the recovery than they did during the recession.


A one size fits all approach does not work. Those who do not seek additional training after high school, whether high school or vocational school are at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy. See, The International Baccalaureate program and vocational students https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/the-international-baccalaureate-program-and-vocational-students/


A publication by the government Why Attend College? Is a good overview

Article in USA Today about gap year

gap year articles

Advantages of Going to a Vocational School

Vocational School Accreditation

Accredidating Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©