Junior slump

Here’s one way to eliminate senior slump. Eliminate senior year.

Denver-AP — Colorado lawmakers are considering one way to eliminate the so-called “senior slump” — getting rid of that year of high school altogether.

State lawmakers have asked education officials to study the possibility of eliminating the 12th grade and establishing a year of preschool instead. They say it would better prepare students for college by giving them an early start — and possibly save money.

I guess academically motivated students could take community college classes to qualify for four-year colleges, though parents are going to grumble at paying for that 12th year. But what about the students who already have trouble passing a graduation exam that measures basic skills? Eleventh grade will become their slump year, and they’ll move to the workforce as semi-literate push-outs.

Here are some other ideas for motivating students to work in their senior year.

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  1. Why not start Kindergarten 1 year earlier and let the effect trickle up? It yields the same result. It just takes several years for the top end to see it. There would be that 1 class that had twice the number of students to deal with but they could work that out.

    Or maybe they should go the other way and have this year’s Kindergarteners go into K2 next year the 1st the year after and have all students stay in public schools for an additional year. This way they would have to higher more teachers and help the national employment rate. They could put this in place immediately by just having all students be in the same grade next year as they are this year (except for the K’s that would move to K2.) Some seniors may not like having to wait another year before graduating, but they probably are not ready anyway.

  2. The Denver plan will just move the “Senior slump” from 12th grade back to 11th grade.

  3. I’m not sure the “senior slump” is a good reason for any sort of educational policy, but I am in favor of an honorable opt-out in 10th grade.

  4. Actually, you can honorably opt out after 10th grade, since most people are 16 before 11th grade: drop out, take the GED, and go on. It’s not ideal, of course.

    If the senior year could be skipped only for people who had already passed their exit exams, that might eliminate the slump for everybody. Students going into their junior year a bit behind would have a reason to push a little harder.

  5. Hmmm. Give this 12 years of ideas like this, and home schooling would be the norm.

  6. I have to second the junior-year slump comment. That’s exactly what would happen– “Hey, guys, this is our last year!!! Party!!!” The school could just as easily keep senior year and try re-naming it “Work Your Tail Off” year. The kids who cared would keep working, the kids who didn’t wouldn’t work anyway…

  7. jeff wright says:

    By their thirteenth year in the wholly artificial environment of the American school system, kids are sort of burned out; they’ve come to understand that those running the schools are not infinitely wise and are often seriously out of touch with the real world. Importantly, they’re also seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. As noted in the articles, those bound for college already know what they’ll be doing come next September. Those not bound for college (are there any kids left who aren’t?) are also burned out and just anxious to get it over with. Bottom line: it doesn’t matter any more. Twelfth-graders are just demonstrating that critical thinking regarding which Joanne posted a couple of days ago.

    Testing further skews the equation. If you are one of those college bound kids and you are actually literate, you KNOW you’re going to pass the tests (still a lot of those kind of kids out there and the tests, well, we know about the tests, don’t we?). So why exert yourself in class? If you’re one of the kids regarding whom everybody wrings their hands, well, you’ve already flunked a bunch of tests. You KNOW you’re not going to pass. But you also know you’ll get your diploma. The state will blink.

    BTW, how many of you out there really exerted yourselves in HS senior year? I didn’t. And college? You should see what I took my senior year. I front-loaded major and minor courses and deferred some BS electives until senior year. Result: still got good grades, kept the GPA high enough, etc., etc. And look how I ended up. Posting on Joanne’s weblog.

    Accelerate kindergarten? The current age for structured education is appropriate. Let ’em get out of diapers before they have to face school. Senior slump is the least of the problems facing the schools.

  8. Well, I exerted myself in my senior year. I liked my classes (Physics! Woohoo!) and besides my self image was/is bound up in doing my best all the time. There are other people like me, believe it or not.

  9. This is kind of like trying to reduce the amount of punting in football by eliminating the fourth down since that’s when the most punting occurs…

  10. There are also the AP kids… I do remember studying hard through the end of my senior year, partially because I didn’t want to trash what was a pretty good transcript, and even more, to try and get the all-important 4 or 5 on my AP exams and place out of a few freshman college classes.

  11. I worked pretty hard both my senior years. In HS, I was taking a whole bunch of science classes that I finally qualified for, and in college I was trying to graduate, so I was taking something insane like 21 credits.

    The GED carries a stigma (not that anything else wouldn’t, either), which is the only reason I suspect more students don’t go for it.

  12. Senior slump has the same basic cause as other educational problems – poor attitude. A more “rigorous” senior year of high school won’t undo the effects of sliding through K-11. Such graduates will still be taking remedial classes in college or be unprepared for employment.

  13. I didn’t slack off until my senior year of college, but then I had set it up so that my only grad requirements left by then were a P.E. class and a social sciences class. I just audited a bunch of other classes and chilled out.

    But then, I didn’t start drinking alcohol til I was 21, so perhaps that made the difference…

  14. No, you’re not going to get rid of that last year slump – at least until colleges start taking applications in June (which would in turn require admissions offices to actually get with the Information Age and process those applications in a timely manner!)

    But who cares? Knocking off a year or two (or even three) from K-12 is worthwhile on its own merits. And you don’t need to put 4 year olds in kindergarten (although some of them might benefit from doing so) – just reduce the (extraordinarily high) number of days off per year.

    “The GED carries a stigma (not that anything else wouldn’t, either), which is the only reason I suspect more students don’t go for it.”

    Yes, it does (I’d like to see a GED that’s much more difficult to pass, so you can take one without the stigma), although if you then get a good college degree, I doubt most employers would give a damn. Might be worth looking into…

  15. I think it’s a larger societal/human nature problem: the “I’m almost outta here syndrome”.

    Removing the senior year will only push the slump into the junior year. It is not unlike college campuses around Thanksgiving break: woe unto any prof who teaches a class the day before break and didn’t think to schedule a test – they will be teaching the five students who either live right in town, are preternaturally motivated, or are foreign students who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving anyway.

    Or it’s like colleges that don’t have Friday classes (and even some that do): the weekend partying starts on Thursday and sometimes even Wednesday nights.

    it’s also not unlike when some people (not all, but some, I know someone who has done this) approach retirement – they suddenly cease to care about their jobs even when other people are depending on them. Or when someone is getting ready to quit and they think “screw this job…screw the company” and don’t also realize or don’t care that they may be screwing their soon-to-be-former co-workers. (no, I’m not bitter about the situation like this I was involved in, why do you ask?)

    so, I think eliminating the senior year will just cause “party creep”

    I will add that I was one of those peculiar students who didn’t slump as a senior, although a big part of that was that I was taking 3 AP classes and was really gunning for 5’s on the exams so I could skip the cattle-call survey classes my first year in college. (I also attended a private high school where the coursework was, as far as I can tell, more interesting and challenging than what the average high schooler seems to get).

  16. As someone who completed high school in three years, and college in three years, I now sorta wish I had taken advantage of “senior slump” time

    Oh well…..

  17. Robert Schwartz says:

    This is one of my pet peeves. I blame the colleges for the problem. The cure would be very simple. College should not commit to admit anyone until after they have recieved and reviewed the final transcript. SAT’s should be taken in the 8th semester.

    Under the current system admissions decisions are made in many cases based only on 6 semesters of grades. This is a real disadvantage to students who do not get their acts together until they turn 16 or 17 in 11th grade.

    Furthermore, my plan would end early decision admissions plans, which are notorious for favoring the wealthy and sophisticated over students who cannot afford to attend college without substantial scholarship assistance.

    Downside, yes some kids would not know where they are going to college until late August. So what?

  18. How about the colleges don’t take applications until the senior grades are in – and then they don’t decide for a year. The kids can spend that time working for McDonald’s until they know why they’d better make good use of their time in college.