We said think out of the box, but... Utah mulls "optional" 12th grade to aid budget

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-utah-school15-2010feb15,0,906102.story

LATimes said:
In Utah, a plan to cut 12th grade -- altogether

The proposal by state Sen. Chris Buttars would chip away at Utah's $700-million shortfall. He's since offered a toned-down version: Just make senior year optional.

Reporting from Denver - At Utah's West Jordan High School, the halls have swirled lately with debate over the merits of 12th grade:

Is it a waste of time? Are students ready for the real world at 17?

For student body president J.D. Williams, 18, the answer to both questions is a resounding no. "I need this year," he said, adding that most of his classmates felt the same way.

The sudden buzz over the relative value of senior year stems from a recent proposal by state Sen. Chris Buttars that Utah make a dent in its budget gap by eliminating the 12th grade.

The notion quickly gained some traction among supporters who agreed with the Republican's assessment that many seniors frittered away their final year of high school, but faced vehement opposition from other quarters, including in his hometown of West Jordan.

"My parents are against it," Williams said. "All the teachers at the school are against it. I'm against it."

Buttars has since toned down the idea, suggesting instead that senior year become optional for students who complete their required credits early. He estimated the move could save up to $60 million, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The proposal comes as the state faces a $700-million shortfall and reflects the creativity -- or desperation -- of lawmakers.

"You're looking at these budget gaps where lawmakers have to use everything and anything to try to resolve them," said Todd Haggerty, a policy associate with the National Conference of State Legislatures. "It's left lawmakers with very unpopular decisions."

In Utah, the opt-out proposal could prove more politically feasible.

[Article Continues]
I guess I'm not sure exactly how this is supposed to work... it sounds like they would give a high school diploma to a student after they finish 11 years and enough credits to graduate. It's confusing to me whether this is intended to accelerate students headed for college or university, or if it's intended to push 17-year-olds into the workforce (and for the latter, if the education-level x unemployment rate scenario is vastly different in Utah than it is elsewhere?).

OTOH, I do remember that I had a friend in high school who was really tired of high school by his 11th year. He was quite smart, and they actually mulled having him drop out, enter college, and pick up a GED later. He ultimately did not go down this road, and later, he sort of burnt out of higher education. He ended up happy, AFAIK, but there was the question of whether an alternative approach could have kept him more intellectually stimulated.
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
15
Penryn
The problem with the US education model is there is really aren't any choices a kid can make before they graduate high school. I'd like to see some kind of split at age 16. With the college bound taking college prep classes (and not being held back by the kids who are bored to death by school) and the remainder entering some kind of vocational track.

By the age of 16, most kids probably have some sort of idea as to what they want to do.

On topic, this is a really stupid idea coming out of Utah.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
By the age of 16, most kids probably have some sort of idea as to what they want to do.
I have two feelings about this -- having gone through American graduate education, I think there is still a push in higher education to specialize too soon and too decisively. We already are at the point where, in the mentality, people are considered primarily only qualified to enter one sub-sub-sub-speciality when they get their PhD, at the time they start graduate school. That's silly. Locking people into something even earlier is concerning, to me.

On the other hand, I think people should get early exposure to the areas they might like, both to stimulate learning, and to let them know if they'd really like it. Medicine is a good example -- four years of undergraduate molecular biology might tell you if you will be able to learn medicine, but it won't tell you if you are going to enjoy it or if you are going to be a "good doctor."
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
The problem with the US education model is there is really aren't any choices a kid can make before they graduate high school. I'd like to see some kind of split at age 16. With the college bound taking college prep classes (and not being held back by the kids who are bored to death by school) and the remainder entering some kind of vocational track.
Not sure how it is at other high schools, but at my high school, by 11th grade or so, the students who planned on going to college would go on to chemistry, physics, literature, composition, trig and calculus, etc, classes while the ones that were only getting their diploma so they could be promoted to assistant night shift manager at McDonalds stayed behind in the slower paced "for dummies" classes. For the last couple years of high school, I rarely saw the...how should I put this nicely...complete f***ing morons, and I never felt like I was behind held back.
 

nbs2

macrumors 68030
Mar 31, 2004
2,713
485
A geographical oddity
On topic, this is a really stupid idea coming out of Utah.
While Buttars's original idea was a bit off, the current proposal (making senior year more easily skippable is a good idea. I cna think of more than a few people that took just fun classes their senior year just to satisfy the obligation to attend school as they had completed all their credits by the end of junior year. They would have been better served by just going to college. They would have been a year younger than other freshmen - nothing different than the quick learner that skipped first grade.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,374
UK
This is always a difficult issue, there are several issues and they counteract each other really.

The most important thing in education is the reading, writing, arithmetic and IT skills and most people should have learnt those by 17.

Knowing about "social issues" like history, geography and religion is good for people as it integrates people better with society and that is important too but more subtly.

Lots of people are very turned off by education by the time they are 17 and making them do more academic work doesn't really achieve anything.

Having compulsory education for late teenagers means the persons parents can't persuade them to leave school as easily.

But still education is increasingly required in todays society.

I think one thing that needs to be done is making education available when you are over 18 if you want it later, we do that to some extent in the UK (you can get free training if you don't have A-levels - what you get after 13 years of education), but probably not enough.

For the last couple years of high school, I rarely saw the...how should I put this nicely...complete f***ing morons, and I never felt like I was behind held back.
Not everyone who isn't academic is a moron, being a plumber for example is pretty difficult. But for that you only need the basics and probably some Science education.
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
15
Penryn
I'm just not so sure that allowing kids to get out of school at 17 is a good idea. Sure, there may be a few who are ready for college life, but most aren't. It would make more sense to encourage those who aren't going to a four year college to enroll at 16 in a local junior college. Then, when they're 18, they have real, marketable skills. That might well increase the graduation and literacy rates that are so dismal now.

Don't the Brits finish at 16? I think that's too young.

Mohan, I agree that there are dangers in encouraging kids to specialize early, but, once they're lost to boredom, they're lost to the system. Better to keep them engaged and ensure that if they do change their minds, they can return to a college track education.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
16 for compulsory education, 18 after A-levels which are optional.
Does the UK have the same issue of disproportionate joblessness among lower educated individuals? People in the US with a high school or less education are quite vulnerable during any economic downturn here (and they don't fare to well during a good economy, either, TBH).
 

Ttownbeast

macrumors 65816
May 10, 2009
1,135
0
This is not news, I know of no state where a student is legally required to attend through the 12th grade some states it is mandatory to attend up to 10th, others 8th students can leave school voluntarily at 15 or 16 in some states--all with or without a GED or diploma. This "option" is nothing new in America's public educational system, it is structured as such for archaic reasons the same kinds of reasoning for which there is an extended break in the summer months, this is because the rules for the school system were outlined back when the nation was a pre-industrial agricultural society. Kids took the summer off to work in the family fields, and left school with a basic education at an early age to begin the process of taking over the family farm. The laws still in place are leftovers of this agriculturally based educational model.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,989
The LAST thing that should be cut in the USA is education. It's scary enough here already.
 

Zombie Acorn

macrumors 65816
Feb 2, 2009
1,301
9,062
Toronto, Ontario
The problem with the US education model is there is really aren't any choices a kid can make before they graduate high school. I'd like to see some kind of split at age 16. With the college bound taking college prep classes (and not being held back by the kids who are bored to death by school) and the remainder entering some kind of vocational track.
Its already like this in some districts. The only high school course I took in my senior year was "American Government" because it was a mandatory senior level course.

That being said this is a terrible idea to cut out the senior level.
 

Dont Hurt Me

macrumors 603
Dec 21, 2002
6,056
6
Yahooville S.C.
Maybe they should start cutting govt and all the ridiculousness that govt does before cutting school . How about pulling all that $$$ from the prison system first before destroying whats left of our education system? Education should be the last cut made.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
12,141
13,989
Maybe they should start cutting govt and all the ridiculousness that govt does before cutting school . How about pulling all that $$$ from the prison system first before destroying whats left of our education system? Education should be the last cut made.
Agreed on that. However, how do you cut money from the feel good "hey we're making progress, just look at how many people we jail for petty crimes" prison system?
 

Dont Hurt Me

macrumors 603
Dec 21, 2002
6,056
6
Yahooville S.C.
Agreed on that. However, how do you cut money from the feel good "hey we're making progress, just look at how many people we jail for petty crimes" prison system?
True, whats more important increasing the never ending we have a new law and made you guilty of something new prison system or educating our children so they grow up into productive tax payers with enough education to realize that this ever growing police state cant be afforded while we all work for multinational corporations who employee others that have no regulation taxes or unions and exploit tax loopholes to avoid paying those taxes for our police state. Its a tough question for the politicians....... prisons or education for those two young to vote?
 

abijnk

macrumors 68040
Oct 15, 2007
3,286
4
Los Angeles, CA
Not sure how it is at other high schools, but at my high school, by 11th grade or so, the students who planned on going to college would go on to chemistry, physics, literature, composition, trig and calculus, etc, classes while the ones that were only getting their diploma so they could be promoted to assistant night shift manager at McDonalds stayed behind in the slower paced "for dummies" classes. For the last couple years of high school, I rarely saw the...how should I put this nicely...complete f***ing morons, and I never felt like I was behind held back.
That's not the point. It isn't black and white like that. The choices aren't "go to college" and "flip burgers." What about kids who are in the middle? Perhaps interested in a trade or vocational school? I think that's the point Ugg was trying to make. How can we give the college bound students the optimal environment, get kids who aren't college bound but aren't failures into an appropriate environment, and keep the kids who aren't willing to help themselves out of the way. Heck, even that is an oversimplification. I guess my point is just that there isn't just one track to success (namely college). There are other perfectly acceptable tracks that kids need to a) know about and b) have access to.

Regardless, having an optional senior year isn't the way to do it, Utah.
 

Eraserhead

macrumors G4
Nov 3, 2005
10,300
10,374
UK
Does the UK have the same issue of disproportionate joblessness among lower educated individuals?

Pro People in the US with a high school or less education are quite vulnerable during any economic downturn here (and they don't fare to well during a good economy, either, TBH).
I think the same is true in the UK.
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
15
Penryn
That's not the point. It isn't black and white like that. The choices aren't "go to college" and "flip burgers." What about kids who are in the middle? Perhaps interested in a trade or vocational school? I think that's the point Ugg was trying to make. How can we give the college bound students the optimal environment, get kids who aren't college bound but aren't failures into an appropriate environment, and keep the kids who aren't willing to help themselves out of the way. Heck, even that is an oversimplification. I guess my point is just that there isn't just one track to success (namely college). There are other perfectly acceptable tracks that kids need to a) know about and b) have access to.

Regardless, having an optional senior year isn't the way to do it, Utah.
That's exactly the point I was trying to make. There are a whole range of jobs out there and while many need no experience or training, many do require some specialized training. Not everyone grows up wanting to become a Wall Street banker or an engineer. Lots want to work in construction or as police officers or as farmers. Why shouldn't they be able to pursue that early on? I don't believe that a strictly academic track during most kids' 17th and 18th year is the best choice.

Too many kids are ill served by our educational system so what we're doing now, doesn't necessarily work.
 

splitpea

macrumors 6502a
Oct 21, 2009
991
226
Among the starlings
IIRC, here kids are legally permitted to drop out at 16 regardless of what credits they've earned. Not something I'd encourage for most, but I think the rule is meant to allow kids to help support their families.

Of course, in the long run, it just means more competition for low-skilled jobs.

At the very least, I'd suggest requiring the kid to pass a GED test before skipping 12th grade.
 

TuffLuffJimmy

macrumors G3
Apr 6, 2007
8,989
25
Portland, OR
This doesn't seem like too bad of an idea, if executed correctly. By the end of my junior year of high school, had I taken another PE class, I could have graduated. This made my senior year a fun happy sunshine breeze! Of course I could have spent my senior year doing more productive things. I only took the bare minimum amount of credits per term that I had to and I rarely showed up for class. In retrospect I was really just leeching away at the taxpayer's dollar even though I was probably ready to go to a university.
 

Tomorrow

macrumors 604
Mar 2, 2008
7,116
1,246
Always a day away
That's exactly the point I was trying to make. There are a whole range of jobs out there and while many need no experience or training, many do require some specialized training. Not everyone grows up wanting to become a Wall Street banker or an engineer. Lots want to work in construction or as police officers or as farmers. Why shouldn't they be able to pursue that early on? I don't believe that a strictly academic track during most kids' 17th and 18th year is the best choice.
My first high school (I moved away during my junior year) was strictly a college-prep school, for the most part. Just about everyone was going to go to college.

When I moved to a rural area, there were indeed programs in the high school where students could learn carpentry, welding, agriculture, etc. Those classes took up a 3-hour block of time of each school day, and those guys (and a handful of girls) would learn a trade.

I opposed the idea then, and still do to a point, not in principle but in execution. I don't see high school as the venue to spend half of every single school day teaching a vocation. However, I would support a program where people who wish to pursue that track leave high school after 2-3 years then move on to a vocational school. Kids leave high school early to take college classes, the vocational track shouldn't need to be all that different.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Original poster
Jan 9, 2004
29,641
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
I opposed the idea then, and still do to a point, not in principle but in execution. I don't see high school as the venue to spend half of every single school day teaching a vocation. However, I would support a program where people who wish to pursue that track leave high school after 2-3 years then move on to a vocational school. Kids leave high school early to take college classes, the vocational track shouldn't need to be all that different.
In some defense of what Ugg is saying... a lot of these kids are going to end up in the workforce at that point anyways. If you have to dump an 18 y/o into the workforce, at least dumping them in as a skilled tradesman is a lot better than putting them in as unskilled or semiskilled labor.

In the longer term, if you want the kids to stay in high school and/or go to junior college, I think you have to not only create the stable jobs that allow for this but also create the kind of family affluence that gives kids the time to learn before they start working.
 

SLC Flyfishing

Suspended
Nov 19, 2007
1,486
1,639
Portland, OR
Take it from a native Utahn, Chris Buttars is a complete and total stain. I think the for vs against this proposal in Utahn public opinion is like 20% to 80% right now.

Senator Buttars is the butt of a lot of jokes and disdain here in our state. We only keep wondering why those poor souls in West Jordan keep voting him in time and time again.

SLC
 

Ugg

macrumors 68000
Apr 7, 2003
1,985
15
Penryn
Buttars' proposal may have been based on idiocy, but next year eight states are going to let students "graduate" in tenth grade. Academically inclined students will continue with college prep classes and others will be given a chance to enroll in a jr or vo-tech college.

IMO, this is a very good thing, the US educational system has been stuck in a century old time warp.

NYT article

In an experiment that could reshape American secondary education, high schools in eight states will introduce new courses next year, along with a battery of tests for sophomores, that will allow students who pass to get a diploma two years early and immediately enroll in community college.

Students who pass but aspire to attend a selective college may continue with college preparatory courses in their junior and senior years, organizers of the new effort said. Students who fail the 10th grade tests, known as board exams, can try again at the end of their 11th and 12th grades. The tests would cover not only English and math but other subjects like science and history.

The new system of high school coursework with the accompanying board examinations is modeled largely on systems in high-performing nations including Denmark, Finland, England, France and Singapore.

One of the goals of the program is to reduce the numbers of high school graduates who need remedial courses when they enroll in college. More than a million college freshmen across America must take remedial courses each year, and many drop out before getting a degree.

“That’s a central problem we’re trying to address, the enormous failure rate of these kids when they go to the open admission colleges,” said Marc S. Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington-based nonprofit that is organizing the board exam effort. “We’ve looked at schools all over the world, and if you walk into a high school in the countries that use these board exams, you’ll see kids working hard, whether they want to be a carpenter or a brain surgeon.”

The 100 or so high schools participating in the initiative are pioneers in a pilot project that organizers hope will eventually spread to all schools in those states, and inspire other states across the nation to follow suit.

High school students will first begin the new coursework in fall 2011 in schools in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Kentucky’s commissioner of education, Terry Holliday, said that high school graduation requirements there have long been based on having students accumulate enough course credits to graduate.

“This would reform that,” Mr. Holliday said. “We’ve been tied to seat time for 100 years. This would allow an approach based on subject mastery — a system based around move-on-when-ready.”

The new system aims to provide students with a clear outline of what they need to study to succeed, said Phil Daro, a Berkeley-based consultant who is a member of an advisory committee for the effort.

School systems like Singapore’s promise students that if they study diligently the material in their course syllabuses, they will do well on their examinations, Mr. Daro said. “In the U.S., by contrast, all is murky. Students do not have a clear idea of where to apply their effort, and the system makes no coherent attempt to reward learning.”

Four years ago, a bipartisan panel of national education and other policy experts, assembled by the national center, recommended a far-reaching redesign of the American educational system, including the adoption of board examinations in high schools.

Other recommendations of the 2006 panel included giving states, rather than local districts, control over school financing, and starting school for most children at age 3. Mr. Tucker said that the board examination project was the broadest effort at putting the panel’s proposals into effect so far.

“One hope is that this board exam system can prepare students to move on to careers, to higher ed and technical colleges and the workplace, sooner rather than later,” said Howard T. Everson, a professor of educational psychology at the City University of New York, who is co-chairman of the advisory committee.

States that participate in the pilot project on board examinations will pick up to five programs of instruction, with their accompanying tests, for use by the participating high schools. Those programs already approved by the national center include the College Board’s Advanced Placement, the International Baccalaureate Diploma, ACT’s QualityCore and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education programs offered both by Cambridge International and by Pearson/Edex