I don't think everyone deserves a high school diploma. A diploma should signify some minimal level of education and competency. If you don't earn a diploma, the problem is yours; the taxpayers shelled out a lot of money for you, and you either wasted it or weren't capable of meeting those minimum standards. That's not a judgement, that's a recognition of fact. The sky is blue. The sun rises in the east. Objects fall down. You didn't earn a diploma.
Some people, however--and they work in education--think everyone is entitled to a diploma, whether they know anything or not. It's bad enough when parents think that way, but we're doomed when teachers and district administrators think that way.
Which means we're doomed.
Credit recovery is a lie. It's a sham. It's a way to skirt requirements and give a diploma to people who haven't really earned a diploma. And it's making a mockery of those who actually try to teach and learn:
Online credit recovery programs are used by 88 percent of U.S. school districts. They give high school credit for just a few weeks (sometimes a few days) of work, with little or no evidence that much is learned. School districts know they have a problem but often look the other way.Integrity is important. Accountability for taxpayer dollars is important. Learning is important.
I can see why. Allowing students to cheat on the exams has helped raise high school graduation rates to a record 83 percent. In a recent column I suggested we overlook the problem, since restless students who hate high school are just going to drop out if we don’t give them some escape, like credit recovery.
Having thought more about the stories Jonnard, Davis and other teachers are telling me, I see I was wrong. Letting such dishonesty thrive poisons any respect teachers, students and parents have for our schools.
A graduation rate, when you think about it in detail, is a very difficult thing to measure. Who counts? What about people who move away? How do you measure a school's "drop out rate" or "graduation rate"? So we cobble together some convoluted formula, call it a "graduation rate"--and you know what? It's just a marker. It doesn't signify that anyone's learned anything, we just know, or think we know, that a higher number is better than a lower number. In that way it's a lot like the "body count" statistic during the Vietnam War. It didn't mean we were "winning" the war, whatever that would have looked like, we just knew that a higher number was better than a lower number.
And how did that turn out for us when all was said and done?
There is no value in credit recovery except for the school and district administrators who get to pretend that they're educating more children than they really are.