Sunday, May 10, 2009

Credit recovery, take two

Two hits today on matters relating to student success and credit recovery.
First, this weekend was the coverage of the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association conference in Toronto that high school students need chances to succeed, not automatic zero-grade marks that shuttle them out the door and onto other things without a high school diploma of any kind. In an interesting aside, I noted the Toronto Sun covered this and nary a mention over at The Star has two full-time education reporters-- the Sun... has about nine reporters on its city desk, total.
Minister Kathleen Wynne told trustees that while there have to be consequences, students also need a supportive environment that allows them an opportunity to try again.
From the story:
"Do there have to be consequences? Absolutely. Do kids have to learn to take responsibility for their work? Absolutely. Can kids get zero on an assignment? Absolutely," Wynne said to about 500 people in attendance at an airport-area hotel for the 79th annual meeting of the OCSTA. "Is zero the first thing that happens if they make a mistake ... or they don't live up to the standards? Probably not."
She said she rejects the position that failure is a "measure of rigour" in the system and that high schools can no longer be seen as a "sorting mechanism" where students who are academically capable are pushed ahead while those who are technically skilled are steered in another direction and those who show no desire or aptitude are left behind.
"We can't have more than 20% of our kids not get through high school, not get that certification," Wynne said.

Add to that the Ottawa Citizen's ongoing coverage on this issue, the latest of which sees Joanne Laucius (who once interviewed this reporter when still a pudgy high school student) speak with teachers and students in a credit recovery program in Ottawa. Eerily enough, you'd think Wynne channeled this article published Sunday in her remarks made Saturday, or vice-versa. A section of the article:
Consultant Damian Cooper, who has advised the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board on assessing and evaluating student achievement, argues that in today's knowledge economy every student needs to leave high school with literacy and numeracy skills. It's up to educators to figure out what works for each student, not merely to separate the wheat from the chaff and send the wheat to university and show the chaff the door.
"The job of school is no longer to sift students into the smart, medium and dumb groups," says Cooper.

All of which feeds the questions asked the last time-- are credit recovery, et. al, programs simply part of a self-esteem movement or are they trying to make sure every student gets support to get a high school diploma?
This is also interesting given Ontario PC leadership candidate Tim Hudak's plank on (the return?) of high school exit exams. I have difficulty seeing, without further explanation, how the university bound student and the school-to-work student can even be eligible to take the same exit exam when their destinations are so drastically different.


Anonymous said...

good post....lots to think about.

Let me go out on a limb and suggest that the move to exit exams is coming from post-secondaries and employers as they get to experience the results through the students they see coming to them?

If the answer isn't to have a school equipped to teach every individual learner in the province, should we expect teachers to meet the needs of every individual student? That's just nuts no matter how you slice it.

I recall reading in one of the more recent reports...I'm thinking it was the one to do with school boards and trustees that the gov't is asking for measured outcomes from boards. Exit exams are one way of measuring what a student knows or doesn't know as a pre-requiste to work or post-secondary. I'm thinking that too many kids are arriving to a job or a college unable to put together sentences or fill out an application or compose a letter.

I think credit recovery is this gov't's attempt to get them through the system another way other than meeting a standard.

Education Reporter said...

Yeah, good questions that I honestly don't have an answer to. I know and report on plenty of talented teens of all abilities who graduate high school and move on to successful post-secondary studies or careers. I also am aware of many who never make it that far and are participating in the less glamourous elements of life with little hope or motivation to escape it because they cannot or don't want to see a way out.
A public education system needs to serve all these people.
I do, however, find it too easy for colleges, universities and employers to simply state their recruits "aren't like what they used to be" without participating in finding out why and then chipping in to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

there's a good article in today's London Free Press on the front page re: we're still seeing kids drop out. A UOFW prof. says it's because kids are ending up having no skills to market. He actually finishes by saying what you've ended your last post with that between post-secondaries, employers and school system we need to figure out where the need is re: employment and work together more on getting kids the skills they need to get those jobs.