Arguing a Position
High School Credits and Graduation Requirements
“In 1997, Chicago raised its graduation standards to well above what Illinois then requires, asking all students to complete all of the courses necessary for entry to competitive state universities”(1). Many people believed that this may cause many students to drop out, but in reality, the graduation rates improved. Now, we are currently facing a nationwide dilemma. Many high schools are cutting graduation requirements and taking away classes that are important to both the students and teachers. I propose that every high school nationwide should have at least seven courses to take and that every student will graduate with a minimum of twenty-six credits. The most credits a student can obtain is twenty-eight which will be applied in the system. Some schools such as a high school in Santa Ana, California have their students graduate with at least two-hundred and forty credits. In 2009, the district wanted to reduce the credits to two-hundred and twenty so more students will graduate. “By lowering them its just like saying we don't want to put our students to their full potential”(2). Although two-hundred and forty seems like a lot, a course is worth a lot of credits as well which averages out neatly. It would be easier to have every school change the number to twenty-eight and twenty-six so there isn't any confusion. The state of Texas already has this standard and in the past, the graduation requirements have changed many times. Reducing graduation credits will not make things easier for students, but it will affect their performance when they are preparing for college. This issue should be addressed to everyone so every generation can prepare for their futures and be successful.
Many schools want to lower their graduation requirements so more students will finish school and so others won't have the urge to dropout. Another reason why lowering these requirements could benefit us is because it will cost less money if some courses are taken out which means fewer teachers as well. “Twenty-five percent of all students, nearly forty-percent of Black and Hispanic kids fail to graduate”(3). This could also help schools raise their attendance and raise the graduation rates. Since many believe that lowering the graduation requirements is a good thing, they don't realize how much it could actually affect the students who are taking fewer courses.
The reason we have schools is to prepare us for college and to prepare for adulthood. Schools benefit us mentally, physically, and emotionally. We learn to interact with others, we learn about ourselves, and we learn different materials to help us understand the way things work and why we do them. Lowering the amount of credits needed to graduate isn't going to make us smarter or help us prepare for our futures. There are many hardworking students who want to learn and taking away a few courses can affect many especially if it was a course students wanted to take. One disadvantage of lowering the graduation requirements is not being prepared for college and it could be harder to be accepted into a good college or university. “According to a recent national survey, an overwhelming eighty-one percent of high school students expect to attend college”(4). Now a high school diploma isn't enough to find a good job and live on your own. A college graduate will have a better chance of obtaining that job which will make finding a job a lot more difficult, which is the second disadvantage. Students need those extra classes that are being taken away to prepare them for college. “Because too many students are not learning the basic skills needed to succeed in college or work while they are in high school, the nation loses more than $3.7 billion a year”(4). A higher education can help lead to a rewarding career and a happier life. Students attending any high school should have many opportunities to succeed therefore we shouldn't even consider taking away any courses or lowering the amount of credits needed to graduation. Another reason why we shouldn't lower the credits, is because many classes that students want to take as an elective may not be in the curriculum therefore, they won't have the opportunity to learn something they were looking forward to. Although there should be a number of required courses students should take, electives help students feel more excited to attend school and that elective could be something that they want to study in the future. Some AP courses may also be taken away if they were to lower the graduation requirements. Lastly, lowering the requirements will cause students to slack off in school because they will find it easier to graduate especially incoming freshmen who don't fully understand the importance the first year of high school, and can influence colleges and universities to decline their admission. “Another high school in Scott County in Kentucky realized that they needed to make reforms after analyzing statistics that showed that forty-five percent of their incoming freshmen were likely to fail at least one ninth-grade class”(5). Students should be inspired to achieve and if we lower their credits they won't have the opportunity to go as far as they are willing to go.
Most public high schools in California get their money to pay for teachers and programs through the state. The state pays for schools through revenue, funds, and grants. The money comes directly from 21.8% state revenue, 38.4% state general purpose revenue, 1.6% state lottery revenue, 9.2% federal, 21.4% local property taxes and fees, and 7.6% from other local revenue. The funds that are used are unrestricted funds which can be used for any purposes and earmarked funds which can be used for specific purposes. The grants that are given to schools consist of the base grant (funding for ordinary classroom operations), special education grant (additional flexibility in the use of special education funds), opportunity to learn grant (funding for compensatory instructional services for disadvantage students), instructional improvement grant (funding for staff development and instructional services such as arts and technology programs), and charities (6). Money shouldn't be a big issue because schools can receive money in many ways. “Morton High School District 201 officials have cut the number of credits students need to graduate and lengthened class periods in what the board president calls 'the most effective and practical way to save the district money'”(7). Even though they are lengthening the school day, the graduation requirements have dropped which means students will be taking less classes then before. Since money seems to be the biggest issue, schools should encourage students to improve their attendance and get better grades because the school can receive more money from that. This obstacle can be solved with just a little hard work and dedication.
“Most children who attend public and private schools in the U.S. Spend between 175 to 185 days in the classroom a year and enjoy a summer break between the months of June and September. The average length of the school day is six hours. U.S. Students spend approximately 30% less time in school than students in other industrialized nations, putting them at a disadvantage as they compete in the global arena”(8). This is extremely important because we as a nation constantly want to become the best but yet the next generation is having a hard time competing in 'the global arena' because America isn't providing longer school days and more classes for our students. High school shouldn't be as long as six hours because many students work and others are in extra-curricular activities. Students need that gap in order to complete any assignments and to get enough sleep for the next day. Summer vacation is also a benefit to students because students can relax, be with family, and do many other activities that they wouldn't be able to do if they were attending school. We believe that schools should not be lengthened but in order to prevent students from forgetting what they learned before school ends, they should complete some summer work, especially for math. AP courses give summer work to prepare students, but the work they receive will not be as much, so students won't become stressed. Students will still be able to enjoy their long break from school but have the opportunity to learn as well.
If we lowered our graduation rates, there would be less high school dropouts, less classes being failed, more high school graduates, and school districts will be able to save more money if they cut classes that they thought weren't important. If the requirements were made easier for students, they may be inspired to try more challenging courses as well. Although there are several key points to the opposing argument, students can still be challenged by having more courses to choose from. If the requirements are higher to graduate, they will try harder to achieve and students who enjoy participating in sports will be motivated to achieve because they have to be passing a certain amount of classes to be eligible. Overall, keeping the credits to at least twenty-six can benefit students in many ways. We should support students to try their best and to achieve their goals.
1. Will Raising High School Graduation Requirements Cause More Students To Drop Out?. 25 March 2013. <http://www.achieve.org/files/ImproveGradRates.pdf>.
2. Barboza, Tony. “Santa Ana seeks to ease high school graduation requirement.” Los Angeles Times.08 Feb. 2009:1-2. 27 March 2013. <http://articles.latimes.com/2009/feb/08/local>.
3. Downey, Maureen. 26 March 2013. <http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/06/02>. 4. Paying Double: Inadequate High Schools and Community College Remediation. 27 March 2013. <http://www.allyed.org/files/archive>.
5. McCallumore, Kyle M., and Ervin F. Sparapani. “The importance of the ninth grade on high school graduation rates and student success in high school.” Gale Student Resources in Context. Web. 29 March 2013.
6. How California Schools Get Their Money. 29 March 2013. <http://www.cbp.org/pdfs>.
7. Ruzich, Joseph. “Morton High Schools Cut Graduation Requirements to Save Money.” Chicago Tribune. 10 June 2010. Web. 28 March 2013. <http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-06- 10/news/ct-met-0611-morton-bells-20100610_1_president-jeffry-pesek-number-of-credits>.
8. ProQuest Staff. “At Issue: School Schedule.” ProQuest LLC. 2012: n.pag. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web. 29 March 2013.