EdMedia Commons Archive

Is Making High School Completion Easier the Best Way to Combat Low Graduation Rates?

With fears the high school graduation rate will suffer in the coming years, Los Angeles Unified School District officials have moved to pass legislation that would greatly reduce the number of credits and college-prep courses required to graduate from high school, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The proposal is a response to tougher graduation requirements authorized by the LA Board of Education eight years ago that are slated to take effect this fall. Under the proposed changes, the lowest passing grade for college-prep courses would move down from a C to a D, and the number of credits needed to graduate would drop from 230 to 170. That would be a big break from current norms: The Los Angeles Times writes juniors in the district who pass all their courses typically have 180 credits under their belts.

A host of other classes in health, technology, math, and electives would be dropped, as well.

While some experts believe college-prep courses boost student learning no matter what the passing grade, others are less optimistic. They point to grades from the class of 2011, in which just 15 percent of those who graduated after four years were eligible for the state’s two public university systems. Still, supporters of the move aver the reduced credit load will allow students to retake courses they failed, giving them more opportunities to catch up.

The scaled back requirements would require school board approval.

What are your thoughts on this decision? Do watered-down demands make sense when so few students are making the grade, or is this rewarding poor student performance? Should blame be placed on school officials for not doing enough to catch students up to the new standards they voted in less than a decade ago?

Let us know!

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.