Is High School Obsolete? by John Reed

Is High School Obsolete?
I have mainly steered clear of education issues since after 37 years as a teacher, I have many friends and people in the field I highly respect. This week and next, I’m jumping back in with both feet. Recent trends would seem to show that colleges and universities no longer have any regard for their students’ high school academic efforts. Grades, tests, and the like are becoming less important than personality traits, skin color, or cultural background.
Exhibit A: The SAT and ACT tests are no longer required to get into many schools, including some of the most prestigious. Some claim the tests themselves are biased, asking questions that only have cultural relevance to upper-income white kids. I guess that explains why Asians do better on them. More on that later.
Exhibit B: A student’s grade point average [GPA] has been used for decades as a measure of their potential success in college, for high school class rankings, and scholarship awards. Fewer colleges are even bothering to look at GPA now, claiming grades are inflated and meaningless. I’ll agree that grades have been steadily inflating over the last generation, but since it’s been happening across the board, they still provide a useful data point.
Exhibit C: Skin color matters. There’s no such thing as a fair quota system; as colleges have tried to increase opportunities for certain minorities, other equally- or greater-qualified students are turned away. Bottom line? Being Asian or White hurts your chances of getting into some schools. Lots of lawsuits coming.
Exhibit D: The “Move On When Ready” program encourages students as early as ninth grade to take college classes. Do we really have that many Einsteins ready for college at age 14? What does it say about the scope and rigor of high school courses if a kid can just blow them off for college work instead? What does it say about the scope and rigor of a college class if 14-year-olds can pass them?
All these trends seem to show a complete disregard for the high school years by colleges….except of course, for extracurricular activities. Participation in music, clubs, and especially athletics curry favor, as do non-school things like community and church efforts.
So should parents stop pushing their kids for good grades in school? Next week, I explain why they should, if anything, be pushing harder.

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