By John Oliver-Santiago, Apr 17, 2012 2:51 PM
In a recent article, the Wall Street Journal’s Sue Shellenbarger discusses a small but growing trend across the nation where high school students are electing to graduate in three years. It is a trend supporters say helps ease budget woes in the nation’s public high schools.
In support of this fast tracking of high school, states like Texas and Indiana are offering college scholarships for students who can graduate and get a diploma in three years.
Opponents argue the shortened length of time in high school can be detrimental in many ways. For one, these three-year diplomas make it harder to get into elite colleges. Many of the elite and highly competitive universities look at Advanced Placement classes, a type of class that a student seeking a three-year diploma might shy away from due to the added rigor and coursework that it would add to the extra units they’re already taking in order to shorten time at school.
In mid-2010, Utah Sen. Chris Buttars pushed for the elimination of senior year completely in his state, projecting $60 million in savings. But is it really worth it to shorten the depth and breadth of high school education for the sake of cost cutting?
As it is, students working towards highly competitive universities are bending over backwards trying to balance Advanced Placement classes, regular coursework, community service, and extracurricular activities. For these students, four years is already a short time to space these out.
More so for the California high schools that serve low-income communities where students are unable to complete the necessary credits needed to fulfill their A-G (Academic Guidelines) class credit requirements in order to get into the CSU and UC school systems. Others aren’t graduating because they’re having to balance school with jobs and/or family matters.
The move to shorten high school is another example of administrative misstep, an out-of-touch and top-down reform that means well but for the sake of penny pinching just further aggravates the problem.
John Oliver Santiago is a fellow with New America Media's Youth Education Fellowship. The fellowship is a six-month long program for youth reporters aged 16-24 on education reporting. It is sponsored by the California Education Policy Fund.