Expand types of high school diplomas

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I agree and disagree with the expansion of the high school diploma to include an “applied” diploma. I disagree in that this would create a “second-class” diploma.

I agree the Washington state high school diploma needs to be expanded to cover more students. A previous Washington state superintendent of public instruction often declared that anyone graduating from high school in Washington state should be university qualified. That would be counter productive, especially since only about 15 percent of workers are required to have a four-year college degree. What is needed is one diploma with a “college preparation” certification line.

This line would be present if the student met the requirements for college prep certification and blank if they did not. This would be like the “honors” seal that many districts place on a diploma.

Also, as a way to encourage high school students to challenge themselves with very challenging — to them — courses, allow students to remove from their transcript a limited number of courses. This removal should not appear on an official transcript copy. This would not interfere with the college admission process. Many colleges only look at selected courses and recalculate the GPA. Such a transcript would tell the college the student did not complete a specific course.

Furthermore, I believe that there should be non-proficiency-test ways to satisfy graduation requirements in mathematics and English. Every student is different.

When I taught mathematics and statistics at the college level I found myself in total amazement with students who could do algebra, but had to use a calculator to add and subtract. It did not seem logical to me, but there was a short circuit in their “calculate” function while their logic function was OK.

When I was preparing for my orals for my doctorate I was in a professor’s office and saw his grandmother’s high school diploma on the wall. Below the line that said “high school diploma” was a simple listing of area in which she had demonstrated a high level of proficiency.

I asked my professor about this and he said that those proficiencies could have included vocational areas as well as academic areas. If the person passed the basic graduation requirements, but had no area in which they were highly proficient, that area on the diploma would have been blank.

Wow, what a cool concept!

James Willis

Walla Walla

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