I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

More Stringent Requirements to be Put in Place for Matriculation from Middle School to High School

Sometimes it pays to be persistent.  And I have been on this issue, as I have felt for some time now that we were moving too many students out of middle school unprepared for the rigor of High School with a miniscule, almost non-existent hurdle to jump over to get there. 

I blogged about it here, and I discussed the issue last year as well when the student progression plan was being brought for the board's consideration.   I also brought it up in 2011. I simply felt, and continue to feel, that there should be some meaningful requirement above just having straight "D"s and level "1"s across the board and then being welcomed to High School.

Many non-academic factors were given as the justification for not making the matriculation requirement more robust, and the worst one I kept hearing was "Many of these students have already been held back multiple years."  Or "What if they quit?" 

We don't want kids to quit, we want to motivate them.  But we must stop socially promoting them, which we have been doing for quite awhile now.  It must stop, this could be a first step.

I have always liked the carrot and stick approach;  If you want to play football, basketball, and take part in other HS extra-curricular activities-you have to do more than the bare-bones minimum in MS. 

HS extra-curricular participation is the carrot.

Because those that slide into HS having barely escaped middle school with borderline failing grades and the lowest possible scores on the FCAT--those students are the ones being set up for failure, and they are the ones most likely to drop out and/or not complete within four years.

Often we know these same students, (the socially promoted ones) out of frustration or for whatever reason, are a large source of significant discipline issues once they reach high school.  Not being prepared for the rigor of HS exacerbates this phenomenon..... So we need a carrot, and a stick.

So now, the stick is in place if the new plan is accepted.

With this year's Student Progression Plan, to move from 8th grade to 9th grade, students must meet a 2.0 GPA in their MS coursework.  If not, the newly proposed rule that the board will consider for advertisement next week specifies that students who fall short of this GPA requirement will be subject to possible retention in MS or compelled to participate in a "transition" program over the Summer. 

So I'll be asking a lot about what this "transition program" is, though, as this is my one big area of concern.  If we set up a procedure where the "good cause" exemptions from the GPA requirement "swallow the  GPA requirement"  Then we won't be accomplishing anything and this plan won't be effective and I won't support a list of  200 "good cause" exemptions for this new policy. 

I'm going to ask a lot about this transition program, but I'm also going to enthusiastically support this change to the progression plan which I feel represents much forward, incremental progress.

we are, apparently,  finally addressing a long-standing issue.

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