The new graduation plan for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has the bitter taste of failed good intentions.
Eight years ago, the Board of Education planned to raise academic standards for graduation starting this year, preparing students with college-prep classes. Time passed, and now if these requirements are imposed, there is a big risk they could result in a flood of school dropouts. A majority of the student body is not prepared to pass 230 credits in college preparatory classes.
Therefore, now there is a proposal to face reality and decrease the requirement. The required number of credits could get lowered to 170, with students being able to pass with a D grade instead of a C. This would mean students would graduate without the knowledge they need. In addition, they would be allowed to pass with Ds when California’s public university systems require at least Cs for admission.
The LAUSD made a pragmatic decision to resolve the looming problem of requiring more from students when it has not prepared them. The only consolation is that students who have a hard time earning the 170 credits will have more opportunities to study.
It is a shame that LAUSD has to backtrack on its ambitious academic improvement plan. The worst part is that this situation can’t be blamed on the economic crisis. While being in the red is negatively affecting the education sector, deeper changes were needed in K-12 education to achieve the goals set in 2005. Dreaming is not enough.
The LAUSD does not have many options and must choose between failing a huge percentage of students and decreasing the requirements. If students can’t fulfill the requirements, the district accommodates their needs; if the level of student knowledge can’t be raised, the district lowers the requirements. This is not the right way to teach and sends a bad message to students by adapting the system to their shortcomings.