Friday, November 17, 2006

Does K-12 Make Sense?

This is the loaded question posed by District Administration in their November issue, and it’s a good one to ask. They lead off with a story about a state Senator in Colorado, Ronald Teck, who proposed changing schools from the traditional K-12 model to a pre-11 system instead. His thought was that research showed the value of preschool for future academic success, but the senior year of high school is generally considered a waste of time. My thoughts on either end of the proposal:

  1. Preschool is a good, good thing. My school has been fortunate enough to be able to offer preschool for anyone who wants it the last two years, and I can already see it making a difference. Trick is, if it’s tax money involved, I think it makes a lot more sense to offer pre-school only to those parents who need it based on SES or whatever other criteria you’d like to look at.
  2. The senior year is actually starting to mean a lot more. In my district there is a major senior project required for graduation, and it’s a bear for those kids to do. When I was in high school all I had to do my senior year was show up and make sure the yearbook got published on time.
  3. An interesting thing that’s happened recently is the University of Washington withdrawing admission offers to kids who slacked off their senior year. Tough for those kids, sure, but if word got out that not trying your senior year could cost you your college of choice I think the impact would be profound.

There’s an acceleration argument to be made, too. One of the best reports that’s come out in the last couple of years is A Nation Deceived by the Belin-Blank center at the University of Iowa, focused on the needs of gifted kids. It talks about ways to pace the curriculum for those students who are bright and can handle the material in less time than we traditionally allow, and I think that’s a partial solution to the boredom problem that always pops up in student surveys. Grade skipping is a hot button issue for many, particularly in the lower grades, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing when done right.

Anyhow, good article. You can read it for yourself here.


Blogger BG Nelson said...

Hi, Rain,

I saw your blog and have cited it at our website -

You might find our site interesting to your work.

In your own blog, I would find it interesting to have you comment more about what it's like being a first grade teacher in a predominently female profession.

You might find this link interesting:



8:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You make some good points.

However, is the senior project enough to justify weak use of a year of funded schooling? why not make compulsory attendance about getting the core skills...whether that takes 10 years or 13 years of time.

If we want to offer some secondary education, transitional life skills (college prep, vocational training, life management skills, etc) let's add those as a "free" bonus year once/while core skills are completed.

We do have something like a 70% completion rate of high school...that senior year might be a good part of why.


12:53 PM  
Blogger ed at aft said...

Rain -

Can you send me an email at emuir at aft dot org? We're asking some teacher bloggers to give us some help on something.

12:53 PM  
Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Wow. That's an interesting idea. Must contemplate.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving, RAIN!

8:20 AM  
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5:12 AM  

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