Is a High School Diploma Still a Coveted Accomplishment?


Fifty years ago a high school education certified that an individual was literate, numeric, and was a college and workforce ready. Earning a high school education was a coveted accomplishment by many young people. Regrettably, that is no longer the case in today’s world; the high school diploma has depreciated.

An explanation for this could be our changing perceptions of high schools in the  past century.  Many (including some parents, employers, scholars, and communities) do not believe high schools prepare young people with the skills needed to earn  a living wage or to enter a post-secondary institution.  High schools are simply “holding tanks” or “ babysitting sitting institutions” for older students.

This belief  has even caused many of us to question the validity of every high school diploma and the intellect associated with this type of education. That colleges and vocational/ trade schools now require a number of high school graduates to take (and sometimes retake) remedial or basic skills courses to make sure they have fundamental mathematics and writing competence.  In fact, most college freshmen’s class schedules  are now identical to high school courses. A number of entry-level jobs require high school graduates to submit to a basic skills test to demonstrate math and literacy comprehension before being hired for any position.

In order to change this perception,  

Many states have adopted the Common Core State Standards to help secondary schools get back on track and increase the value of a high school education. This  initiative provided a guide of what skills need to be taught by which grade level in order to prevent learning gaps from year to year.  All students will be required to take a high school aptitude assessment to certify they obtain the necessary skills to graduate from high school.   All these reforms are  being rolled out intermittently and in small stages.

 In the meantime…

High schools will continue to educate student as they see fit.  And, society will continue to wonder if these young people are truly being educated, or if these schools are squandering learning time.



Categories: Personal Reflections

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