Williams: Raising LA High School Graduation Rates by Any Means Necessary Is an Empty Accomplishment

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Media Outlet: The 74

Conor P. Williams wrote for The 74 about the paradox of growing graduation rates via lowering standards in the Los Angeles Unified School District. 

Education is full of priorities: getting kids ready for kindergarten, getting children reading on grade level, developing students’ STEM skills, building social-emotional skills, addressing nature deficit disorder (children spending too little time outdoors), developing thoughtful citizens, training future workers to compete in a global marketplace, and so on and so forth.
They’re all interlocked to a certain degree. A child with high-quality early learning opportunities is more likely to read on grade level and be able to access rigorous STEM content, and so forth. This is part of why high school graduation often serves as the one education goal to rule them all. A high school diploma is supposed to wrap up all these other goals, to signal that a graduate has the requisite skills to continue her education in college or begin her professional career in the workplace.

Author:

Conor P. Williams is a senior researcher in New America's Education Policy Program. His work addresses policies and practices related to educational equity, dual language learners, immigration, and school choice.