A slap in the face

“Students who receive a modified diploma, GED, adult high school diploma, alternative certificate or take longer than four years to graduate are now considered non-graduates,” according to a release from State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo. She said this makes Oregon one year ahead of a federal requirement.

According to the new four-year cohort graduate rate for 2008-09 was 66 percent. The other 34 percent fell into one of the above noted categories or dropped out of high school.

District 9 had a 61.8 graduation rate in 08-09 according to the new formula. Under the old formula the rate would have been 91.4 percent. Oregon is suppose to have a 90 percent graduation rate in 10 years (by 2020) under the new cohort.

Unless we are missing something, the programs District 9 (and other districts) have in place to give students, who for a variety of reasons do not fit the traditional four year program, education beyond the traditional four walls of a high school, will end.

We note with interest, “Not all students learn in the same way or at the same rate .” (which is why the district has these programs as mentioned above) The press release goes on to say “schools that are showing gains are expanding instructional time for struggling students, providing greater support and high quality professional development to  teachers, finding new ways to engage parents, expanding access to rigorous curriculum like Advanced Placement, and using data to better track how every student is doing.”

In a perfect world, we would like to believe this works. It has not and why should we believe because Oregon mandates it now, that it will work? We can’t help but wonder if the federal government will actually make this mandatory in a year or will Oregon make this leap only to be forced to fall back because the federal government changed their mind. And, we all know one must follow the federal edicts.

In discussion with District 9 Superintendent Cynda Rickert, she said this “felt like a slap in the face” not just to District 9 but to many districts. She pointed to the need for more than four years to complete a high school education for a variety of reasons- illness and  family death. It also true, said Rickert, that we all learn at a different pace. “We’ve worked too hard to ignore what we have,” said Rickert.

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