Thursday, April 25, 2013


By Tom Chorneau, SI&A Cabinet Report |

Thursday, April 25, 2013  ::  Requirements that high school students complete college prep courses as a condition of graduation may upgrade the value of the diploma and make some quick inroads on federal goals to produce college and career ready students.

But new research released Thursday suggests the benchmark might prove too high and could result in a decline in graduation rates.

Four large, urban school districts – Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland – have recently made completion of A-G coursework mandatory for graduation – although a grade of D is acceptable.

While the students in San Diego who will be impacted by this mandate only just started high school last fall, researchers from the Public Policy Institute of California analyzed transcripts to get a sense of what might happen three years from now.

They found that 61 percent of graduates from the class of 2011 would have met the A-G requirements – that is receiving at least a D in 15 college prep classes. Meanwhile, nearly 39 percent would not have graduated.

Not surprisingly, student experienced the biggest course struggle with math and English as well foreign language. The PPIC team found male students were more likely than females not to pass the A-G course requirement but also key subgroups too including English learners and those enrolled in special education as well as Hispanics, African Americans.

Julian Betts, a coauthor of the report who is both an adjunct fellow at PPIC and a professor at the University of California, San Diego said the study findings should motivate teachers and district administrations to put more emphasis on getting students ready for the requirement.

“San Diego students will need to dramatically change the courses they take," said Betts in a statement. “Clear communication with students, parents, and teachers about the new requirements is critical—and that communication needs to begin in middle school, if not earlier.” College Readiness as a Graduation Requirement by 4LAKids

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