Saturday, June 11, 2011

Graduation figures

Maintaining 100% graduation is a constant battle in state schools.  It is a combination of students understanding expectations, good subject selection practices, identifying students at risk, providing intervention to put students back on the path to passing and providing effective alternate paths for those that will not pass regardless.

If any of these practices fail, 100% graduation becomes unlikely.  It is not something that is easily rectified when it fails and if anyone in the process underestimates the importance of their role, the graduation measure falters.

Some would say that 100% graduation is a furphy and strictly speaking it is.  All students should not graduate.  There are those that are intellectually incapable of reaching any standard set, those with insufficient support at home, those with behavioural and motivational issues, those that have failed due to sickness should not pass.  Seeking high graduation rates has one positive effect in that it promotes support for those that need it most, those most likely to fail.  Seeking 100% graduation in low SES schools is an incredible drain on resources and to my mind a bit of a folly.  Low SES schools face too many of the issues every year raised above and without parachuting every student out that looks like failing (which I think is wrong because struggling students deserve a chance to defeat the odds if they are determined), low SES schools are unlikely to consistently reach 100%.  Anything in the high nineties would seem acceptable.

One issue that is often grappled with is late assessment and avoidance of assessment.  Common strategies to overcome this include parent contact, mentoring, detention, suspension, deputy intervention.  Older style strategies (used in years prior to year 12) such as deducting marks for lateness and requiring medical certificates are pursued less often as this puts students at risk far quicker than allowing students extra time to complete stage 1 assignments, especially if they are likely to reach the required standard by the end of the year (but have only failed due to penalties).

I have grappled with the fairness of this approach for a number of years and have come to the conclusion that allowing students more time (and giving more "incentive" to complete assignments) is fair.  Students in low SES schools lack academic, intellectual and emotional development.  The extra time allows development to take place and maturity to kick in for many cases (and thus we do get them over the line).  It's a lot of extra work for senior school teachers to coerce, coach, encourage and force students to complete work at the end of the year - but it means that students leave school with their year 12 certificate, something that is difficult to get later in life if they don't pass the first time.  Repeating year 11 and giving students time to develop further is another effective response.  Students that do their work, are still likely to do better and will go on to greater things.  Those struggling do not deserve to be punished further.

It's counter intuitive, but I do believe it is right.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi, thanks for leaving a comment.. it's good to hear what people think!