The proposed 10th-grade “diploma” — teens would pass “board exams” and go directly to college — is not a good idea, argue Ze’ev Wurman and Sandra Stotsky in the San Francisco Chronicle. The National Center on Education and the Economy is pushing the idea, with Gates Foundation funding, as a way to motivate bored students and encourage college enrollment.
In the top third of the class, most bright 15-year-olds aren’t mature enough to handle a college environment, they write. They can find challenging AP courses in high school — and supplement their learning with community college courses, if they’re ready.
Students in the middle third often end up in remedial college classes after 12 years of high school. They need stronger coursework through high school to prepare for college
The bottom third — students at high risk of dropping out — need access to modern career-technical high schools.
These high schools give students a pathway for grades nine-12 that maintains their academic options for post-secondary education but also provides them with hands-on training in an occupation of their choice and the potential for high earnings right after graduation.
In Massachusetts, these schools have waiting lists and have become schools of choice, with a 100 percent success rate even on the state’s 10th-grade academic assessment.
Colleges already are coping with unprepared students, they write. They don’t need more undergrads with minimal reading, writing and math skills — and less maturity.
Of course, if the exams really measured college readiness, very few students would pass at the end of 10th grade or even the end of 11th grade.