Rhode Island considers tiered diplomas

The best students in Rhode Island’s most rigorous schools may get a Regents diploma showing they’ve met state standards, while most graduates would earn a local diploma, reports the Providence Journal.

Tougher graduation requirements linked to the Regents diploma are supposed to go into effect in 2012. But many districts — including the three largest, Cranston, Providence and Warwick — aren’t ready to teach to that level. Students aren’t ready either.

. . . nearly half of 11th graders for the past two years have scored so low on the math test — “substantially below proficient” — they would be at risk for not graduating if the new standards were already in place.

Under the proposed plan, students who score “substantially below proficient” in their junior year would retake the test in their senior year. Schools would offer programs to help those students improve.

Only students who score proficient or proficient with distinction on the state tests and who attend a high school that has been approved by the state Department of Education would receive a Regents diploma.

Students in approved schools who score partially proficient or who show improvement on the tests between junior and senior year would receive a Rhode Island Diploma.

The plan would give schools and students “incentives to work hard and improve during the last two years of high school,” regents said.

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  1. Wow, many states dropped the tiered system years ago because they wanted everyone to be ‘equally qualified’ for college. What’s old is new again, huh?

  2. New York State dropped the tiered system a few years ago. The result was the destruction of the vocational training system, which we need now more than ever, and the dilution of what used to be high standards.

    College-preparatory academic work is not synonymous with intellectual rigor. There is plenty of thinking (problem solving, analysis) required in the trades, it’s just not the sort that you find in a classroom. Perhaps this can be a first step towards restoring these ways, before we run out of people who actually know how to build and fix things.

  3. What’s with our tendency to view ancient problems as easily-solvable?

    1. Obama just announces a campaign to end bullying. Give me a break. Foolish hubris.

    2. We’re going to make 100% of our kids ready to do college-level work, with no watering-down of standards. Has any other country in the world done this?

    3. We’re going to bring democracy to the Middle East. Defang the Shiite-Sunni feud? No problem. Make the tribes of Afghanistan submit to a strong central government? America can do anything if it sets its mind to it. Completely reprogram cultures with thousand-year old roots? Quite feasible, we say.

    4. We also think we can quickly remediate college freshman who’ve learned virtually nothing in their first twelve years of education; take them from See Spot Run to War and Peace in a semester. High-level literacy is a slow-growing plant; it cannot be imparted quickly.

    Hasty, impatient, and very unwise –are these defining characteristics of Amerca? At least Rhode Island seems to be on the right track, acknowledging that radical equalization is beyond the powers of us mortals.

  4. >High-level literacy is a slow-growing plant; it cannot be imparted quickly.

    I agree with this. At the age of 53 I feel like I’m starting to get it, but still have a lot to learn. On the other hand, we don’t need “High-level” literacy in our high school students. I would be perfectly happy with just plain literacy and just plain numeracy.

    This weekend, I bought some Halloween candy for seven bucks, plus tax. I gave the guy a $10 bill and he punched that in before I could give him three quarters to take care of the tax. He had to take my word for how much change he owed me. Without the cash register, he was completely lost. This is happening to me more and more frequently.

    Have we ever had a generation that couldn’t make change? Is there a more basic mathematical skill on the planet?

  5. Mark Roulo says:

    Have we ever had a generation that couldn’t make change? Is there a more basic mathematical skill on the planet?

    We may well have, but I don’t think it is because the kids we have today are any less intelligent than the ones a generation or two back. Go back several generations and it was much more common (I think) for cashiers to have to calculate change themselves. I’m pretty sure that something you do every day regularly gets easier than something you do rarely.

    If we took away the automatic change calculation from cash registers, in a few years the cashiers would have learned how to make change again. We don’t and they don’t.

    -Mark Roulo