Seattle School Board Considers Lowering Graduation Requirement. Yes, Lowering.

By SoulNerd September 17, 2009

[caption id="attachment_14264" align="alignleft" width="296" caption="Maria Goodloe-Johnson"]Maria Goodloe-Johnson[/caption]

Ed. Note: This post was originally published this morning.

You may have seen this article in the Seattle Times which explains that Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson has proposed lowering the graduation requirement.  That's right, lowering.

From the Times:
Seattle Public Schools may do away with a nearly decade-old requirement that all students earn a C average to graduate, and an even-older policy that athletes maintain a C average to play on school teams.

If the School Board approves recommendations endorsed by Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson, as well as most district high-school principals and counselors, a D average will be good enough to earn a high-school diploma. Student athletes would need to pass five of six classes with D grades or better.

District officials understand there are concerns about relaxing standards at a time when everyone from President Obama on down is pushing for higher expectations for U.S. students.

*blink, blink*

I'm sorry...what?!

The district claims that overall, it's increased rigor in education and says the decision to factor in E grades when determining grade point averages, which it hadn't done for many years. is proof of that.

But I mean, c'mon.  Is it really okay for Seattle to say "well, other districts have lower requirements, so it's okay"?  And shouldn't that raise the question, "Why are Seattle's standards higher than the average district?"  Here's the answer:
The policy was put into place in 2000, one way the late Superintendent John Stanford sought to raise expectations. At the time, many feared the new requirement could keep hundreds of students from graduating.

That never came to pass, in part because the district stopped counting failing grades, and allowed students to appeal if their average fell below a C.

Why does Goodloe-Johnson want to do this, exactly?  Kids aren't being prevented from graduating.  They have an option to appeal if they need to.  Student athletes are pushed to be athletes and students.

So what's the real reason for this?

Well, it could have something to do with stats for graduation rates which, right now are at about 65%.  Certainly nothing to brag about.

But is this a wise move?  What sort of message will it send?  "Hey, you're doing just fine now, but you can do even less and still graduate."  "You're struggling in class, but the good thing is, you don't have to take the extra study time to get a decent grade and you'll graduate anyway!"

The only thing a kid has to do is show up, maintain a pulse through the day, complete substandard work, and boom, they're a high school graduate.

At a time when public education generally sucks in this country, that's ... not comforting.

The Seattle school board is scheduled to vote on the proposal Oct. 7.
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