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It’s Time to Reform the 12th Grade

July 29, 2011

Over the last two years there has been a lot of conversation about the need for “reforms” in public education. According to political leaders from President Obama, to Education Secretary Duncan, to Governors Granholm & Snyder to State Superintendent Flanagan we need to “reimagine” how we educate our children. This call for reform is typically backed up with stories about how the America education system is losing ground to other countries and not producing students capable of competing in the 21st century global economy. Seldom is the conversation followed by clear policy directives…. add in a healthy dose of reduced funding and we have the recipe for conflict, but also an environment that is ready for change.
In thinking of the issues, I see one area where it is clearly time to change the system we currently use…. the 12th grade. Many of us look back on our senior year in high school and have fond memories of social experiences as we transitioned to college or the workforce. Typically, the majority of the academic rigor occurs in the junior year along with key assessments like the ACT & SAT which can have a significant impact on college admission options. This leaves the 12th grade experience ripe for reform.

I feel the 12th grade should change to be a true year of transition. It should emphasize exploring – and starting – the next phase of a child’s education. This needs to go beyond college visits and meeting with counselors. A college like schedule with syllabi’s and required accountability should be experienced. By the end of a student’s senior year they should have been enrolled in at least one college course. We are fortunate to have quality colleges and universities in our region – it’s time we leveraged that resource to the fullest potential for the benefit of our students.

In Saline, our students do benefit from dual enrollment options, college credit earning Career & Tech Ed courses, and numerous Advanced Placement opportunities – but we can and should do more. With the blurring of the lines regarding how we as a state fund K-12 and higher ed – now is the time to blur the lines for our students and effectively transition them to their next learning environment.

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