I read an article in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution on April15, 2012 that disturbed me. It was about the graduation rate for the State of Georgia. It appears there is a new method of calculating graduation rates and it tells us that more kids are dropping out of high school than the state thought. The state’s new formula shows the graduation rate at 67.4 percent instead of the former 80.9 percent.
From the AJC: “The rate is considered a key barometer of educational progress — so much so that schools use their graduation rates to prove they made Adequate Yearly Progress, the benchmark of success under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Businesses eye the rates when choosing where to locate. Even as the state escapes the mandates of No Child Left Behind, graduation rates will still be used to measure success in Georgia. Precisely how much weight will be given is still to be determined.”
The numbers show that the 57 Georgia high schools graduated less than half of their students! No wonder people are flocking to homeschooling every year. Here’s the kicker: we don’t have more dropouts. Schools have been covering up the truth when reporting their numbers. Yes, that’s what I said. Students who dropped out were reported as transfers even though they did not leave one school for another.
Another problem the article exposed is that many kids are taking longer than five years to graduate high school. Even when it takes a student five or six years to complete high school, the schools are allowed to count them as the same type of graduate as students who completed in the standard four years. Yet the ones who completed in a timely manner received no further accolades. The thought behind this is that it shouldn’t matter how long it takes as long as they eventually finish.
It was reported that students who attended rigorous high schools had a better acceptance into college. But what about the students who are dropping out or taking longer to finish? They obviously would not be able to handle a rigorous workload. What is going on with our public education that students are having such a hard time graduating?
They continue to raise the academic standards but I have to wonder why they would do this if so many are not graduating. Won’t this cause the graduating rate to plummet even further? It seems if the standards are raised even higher without addressing the issue of why kids can’t graduate, it sets more students up for failure. Parents of these students are undoubtedly worried.
What is hard to understand is how these students (middle and high school particularly) sit in a classroom all day and then come home with four or five hours of homework a night and then they still can’t seem to grasp the information enough to pass the classes and move on to graduation. What happens in the classroom all day? This tells me that something isn’t working with the system.
According to Dr. Jay Wyle in his report Why Homeschool for High School, he states that “only 33% of high school graduates are proficient readers. Slightly more than 25% are functionally illiterate. 63% of high school seniors could not point to Russia on a world map. 72% of high school seniors could not distinguish between an atom and a molecule.” http://www.drwile.com/why_high.pdf
If these numbers are accurate (and I am sure they are and may even be higher now), it is no wonder the dropout rate is so high and no wonder it’s taking so long to finish school.
There are many reasons for the dropout rate. Besides being illiterate and the poor teacher to student ratio, kids have to deal with being bullied and living in fear of attacks by other students carrying weapons to school. For many students, school has nothing to do with learning. It’s all about socializing, which often leads students down the wrong road with the wrong bunch of friends.
One problem with the graduation requirements is that it takes 23 credits to graduate, so if a student fails a class or has to drop a class for any reason, he will automatically be behind his peers since it takes four full years to earn 23 credits. Georgia students can stay in school for free until age 20 so some may not be in such a hurry to graduate. When a student begins to fail, the desire to finish often flies out the window. They see no chance of ever catching up so they quit.
Many go on to earn their GEDs and head to technical school to get their starts but it is sad that they aren’t able to complete the normal four year high school educational program.
Thankfully, the new formula will not allow dropouts to be listed as transfers any longer. Schools will have to verify that a student has left and if he transfers to another school he will be counted. A file is kept on every child who enters the school system and it should make it much easier to determine where that child is until the compulsory age of 16.
Personally, I think part of the problem with the current educational system is that it approaches students as a whole and not as individuals. Not everyone is cut out to be a 4.0 student who goes on to earn higher and higher level degrees. We have a world full of artisans who, if given the right opportunity, will live a full life, earn a living, and make the world much more enjoyable for everyone else.
When we homeschool our children, we can stay on top of their education and also be there for them when they have issues. Some of the public school parents said they want the schools to find better ways of reaching out to kids. Since children learn in the different ways, this can be a difficult task. But I would wager it is not impossible. Perhaps one way to solve the problem would be to evaluate each student’s learning style and then place them in a classroom with other students who learn in the same way. Maybe the public schools could model homeschools and this would improve the educational system. But until that happens, lend a hand to your public school friends if they ask you for advice on how to help their children achieve graduation.