Much has been written about standards, high-stake testing, values, remedial programs, no child left behind, etc. Applying the information in a meaningful manner is the hard part. I submit - If a student is not ready for high school they should not be there. They hold the others back, and most of the time, are the ones who drop out.
Our duty, as parents, teachers, or citizens, should be to set the 8th Grade graduation standards - those that all 8th graders should have mastered. (read and comprehend at 8.5 or higher, earned 80% or better on pre-algebra class or passed algebra, passed on a pass/fail course - life skills course to include info about taxes, insurance, housing, nutrition, and some in-depth career exploration and planning, and mastered a list of history, geography, science, etc. concepts that should be understood by 8th graders, and developed skills in research and testing)
If we know the goals, and if we have testing in place, we should be able to get them to the goals - and even past them. The responsibility should be 50% the school, 25% the parent, and 25% the student.
I know that most middle school/ Jr. High kids, if they realize that they will not get to go with their friends, will work their tails off to pass. I am not saying a student who does not pass the program should always fail. I am saying they may have to go to summer school, work in after-school remedial classes, or be assigned to alternative school until they can catch up - what ever it takes.
Most students should be able to stay on track to meet the standards. Those who are behind in any area should be provided an assessment and given a "IEP" involving their parents which can make the child’s progress a team effort.
Students respond to expectations. They must have help when needed. And if the standards are reasonable, not dumbed down, the high school experience will be more pleasant for the students and the teachers. The students will be prepared and the HS teachers will not have to dumb the classes down and/or will be able to cover much more material, thus making the educational system more efficient.
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