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Group: Tougher Requirements Could Mean More Dropouts

Posted June 11, 2007

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— Critics of new graduations standards for North Carolina students say the added requirements could lead to more dropouts.

Beginning with students who enter high school in 2009, the state will require every student to take four math courses before graduation.

Some parents said adding more academic hurdles might ultimately hurt at-risk students.

"We think children will either be retained more (or) will drop out, and we have a cause to be concerned about this," said Calla Wright, who heads the Coalition of Concerned Parents for African-American Children.

Overall, 68 percent of North Carolina's public high school students graduate in four years. But only 60 percent of African-American students earn diplomas in that time, compared with 73.6 percent of white students.

Wright said she is frustrated by the achievement gap and thinks it might grow with higher standards.

"We're saying that the children can meet the challenge. But if the resources are not there, if the support is not there, then we have a problem," Wright said.

But North Carolina Board of Education Chairman Howard Lee said schools must raise standards to better prepare students for college and careers.

State education leaders have set a goal to raise the graduation rate by 60 percent in the next few years.

Lee called the 68 percent graduation rate "unacceptable," and said pushing all students to learn more while pulling up those prone to fall behind are not competing goals.

"Standards in and of themselves are not the main reason kids drop out of school," Lee said. "I frankly reject the notion that just raising standards itself would have a negative impact on black kids."

Lee agreed with Wright that dropout prevention programs, combined with focused family and community support, are the formula for success.

"If we raise the expectations, these kids will respond," he said.

23 Comments

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  • atozca Jun 13, 2007

    ditto ncteach!
    When my oldest son proved to us that he wasn't going to finish traditional high school we searched for alternatives. A wise man pointed out to us that "school is not for everyone but education is and how we receive it can be different!" My son earned his HS diploma.
    I just graduated my daughter from homeschool and we did 4 math, 4 english, 3 science, 3 history, etc... she already has a full time job in her field of interest and is enrolled in tech school for the fall.
    I have found the most important thing is equipping our children with the tools of how to learn, thus they know how to pursue their own educational interest and not be overwhelmed with a tremendous amount of facts to memorize to pass a test.

  • 1Moms_View Jun 12, 2007

    The biggest problem with our educational system in this country is trying to make everyone fit one mold. Not every student is capable of nor wants to persue a higher academic level. There is nothing wrong with students being offered and given a different set of courses that apply more to technical type skills.

    If we stop catering to poll results and groups that try to force the race card and concentrate on providing what is the absolute best thing for each student according to their skill level, then we'd be better off. Not every student will go to college so the college track of courses is not the best direction for them. They need a path to more occupational courses without the heavy academic load.

    A huge problem is a whole generation of students who have not received the message from parents that their education is important! Nothing will change until students receive the message from parents and society that gaining an education is imperative and not optional.

  • At Work Jun 12, 2007

    I get so mad when they try to make this a white/black issue, the issue is if kids cant do the work to pass its on the teachers to insure they do there best and actully learn. Its made way to easy for kids to quit I beleave this is why there trying to raise the age to 18. My true thoughts is if the children apply them selves and key thing have a good teacher they should have no problem graduating.

  • djofraleigh Jun 12, 2007

    I'm neither pro or con on this issue. If at Enloe, with year long classes, a student is going to have to pass English four straight years, math four straight years to graduate. Algebra, then Geometry, then Algebra II and what, Calculus? I doubt 1. Introduction to Math, 2. Pre-algebra 3. Algebra I, 4. Geometry will count for the requirement. Why not have comprehensive tests all along, and after four years give an objective accounting of what the student has retained in math. That is the essential skill. Some will graduate with 300 of 1000 skills and others with 800 of 1000 skills. Math is easier to do something like that with. Let the graduation say that a student completed four years of study, and the scores describe the knowledge learned. Looking at the sample tests in EOG math, there were only four things I thought didn't need to be taught. I support testing and support testing improvement. Teachers shouldn't have to test their own students either. I'm off topic.

  • Supie Jun 12, 2007

    i am completely ignorant about the school system, but as an ignorant taxpayer; why can't we have a two level diploma system where some kids can graduate with a useful depth of learning in an area that will fit their lives? I can imagine 4 different math classes focusing on checkbooks, mortgages, interest accumulation etc, and also 4 different set of classes on higher level concept-stuff. Why do we assume one set is "better" than the other? Seems to me both are neccessary.

  • lame13 Jun 12, 2007

    And we wonder why our children are not at all competitive in the global market....because we don't push them to do ANYTHING. Balancing a checkbook is a wonderful and important skill but school is a place to learn a little bit about everything and to be forced to use your brain. I might not remember anything about algebra now but I am thankful that I was forced to take English for four years, and four maths and science and foreign language because it taught me to be well-rouned and analytical and forced me to use my brain. Who knows, maybe one of these children who thinks they would prefer some type of trade job might end up loving geometry and become the next noble prize winner. If we expect more from children maybe they will surprise us........

  • yruatwit Jun 12, 2007

    And why are at-risk students "at-risk?" Statistically, because they are a product of their environment and role model exposure. Education does not receive priority emphasis in thier life. Survival and getting over on the system takes priority. Irresponsible parents and adults, objectionable movies, perverse music, immoral entertainers, sports figures with attitudes and gangsta peers are the mentors and tutors to these "at-risk" students. In light of this, it makes perfect sense to keep graduation standards as low as possible.

  • perry Jun 12, 2007

    carolnagirl19
    I am sure your situation is a rare one. I am a public school teacher. I have taught at various levels. I can assure you that at every level there is more money and time put into special need kids. Ask any teacher and they will tell you the same thing. The top kids are the ones that are getting less and less because everyone has to be mainstreamed. THese are the kids that are suffering because what is being taught is so low.

  • ContinuityMan Jun 12, 2007

    Read "Harrison Begeron" by the late Kurt Vonnegut. It's about a future society where anyone with better than (a very low) average abilities is forcibly handicapped by the all-powerful government into mediocrity. It's happening now in our schools. More globally incompetetive graduates, anyone?

  • Arcturus Jun 12, 2007

    If we could teach useful math in high school (how to balance a checkbook, how to tell how badly you're being screwed on your mortgage, how to determine the amount of paint needed for a room) instead of useless math (how to factor polynomials), students probably would get more out of two years than they get out of four with the present curriculum. They might learn to think better, too!

    Additionally, not all people are cut out for highly technical or academic careers; there are lots of great jobs out there that don't need a university education. Why should all students have to take college prep courses? Different people have different kinds of intelligences, and I don't understand this need to force everyone into the same mold.

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