High Graduation Rates Are Sadly Inflated; H.S. Diplomas, Meaningless

This NYT article discusses how the increase in high schoool graduation rates doesnt mean more students are graduating at grade level– the truth is students are more likely to graduate far below grade level. 

What’s so disturbing about this article is that it’s not that high school graduates aren’t just unprepared for college, they’re unprepared for life. They’re underperforming in fundamental english, math and verbal skills. It’s sad that schools are sending teenagers out into the world with a valueless diploma for the sake of graduation rates. It’s sad they can do that. It’s sad that students are passing fifth grade without writing clear, coherent sentences and graduatting high school without being able to artuculate themselves. Not everyone is made for college, but most high school students should at least have the most basic skills down pat…we’re required to go to school for TWELVE years…what do we have to show for it? 
As you know, my high school was going through the turn-around process while I was a sophmore. With a little less than 200 students in my class, I was in the top twenty and scored a 5 on the AP English exam. I got to college and was able to avoid math but certainly wasn’t ready to compete with my peers in writing. My writing was atrocious. So, you can imagine how the bottom half (or even the bottom 3/4) of my high school class faired out. How was I able to write paper after paper, complete with weak sentence structure, an inability to connect thoughts and poor grammar, and still  get a 95 in English? I tend to side with teachers when it comes to attactching exams to high-stake consequences, but teachers are blantly deceiving students like myself. More shockingly, New York state and city required exams, along with AP exams, are certainly poor indicators of academic acheivement. Are the standards that low? 

Graduates are only being scarred by this false acheivement. This, to me, only proves that Common Core, No Child Left Behind and the city and state-wide exams required to graduate are in no way accurate when it comes to evaluating life-readiness. A high school diploma, unfortunately, doesn’t represent the deep content a student has learned. Nor does it  indicate that she’s mastered foundational math, literacy, written and verbal skills. Graduating high school students is far less about prepping them for the real world and more about giving off an appearnce that students are learning. This, now an apparent fact, begs the simple question: why is public high school education prioritizing graduation rates over quality education?

I feel the answer lies in high stakes testing and our schools curriculum structure. More on that in a later post.