Contract for grade project 1 : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Graduation Standards During this past year I have participated in three workshops concerning the graduation standards being established in Minnesota schools. The first one was last summer and the other two were just recently attended. These workshops have left me with mixed feelings. I have been told that the grad packets and grad standards are not going to be eliminated completely but the media is saying that the future of graduation standards is on shaky ground. I have heard that each school district may be allowed to establish a different number of standards to graduate and that the original number of forty eight could be reduced to accommodate each school. With open enrollment students who are having trouble meeting graduation requirements in one school may switch to another school with fewer standards just to get by with less work. I have been hearing that the Republicans are trying to get rid of the graduation standards but the NEA wants to keep things going but with a little reform. Governor Jessie Ventura wants to give the graduation standard more time before completely canceling everything due to the time, money and energy put into the project. I do know that at this time some teachers are completing grad packets in their classrooms while others are not or are just beginning. Graduation rules? Basic standards? High standards? Rubrics? Educators, parents, students and the general public have been, in varying degrees, misinformed or left uneducated with these definition of these terms and other information regarding the Minnesota Graduation Standards. The Minnesota Graduation Standards are being implemented in many schools and after going to several workshops I was amazing to see what some schools and teachers are doing. Maybe the whole concept is a improvement over what we have been doing in the past to combine education with real life. I have taught three grad packets to my second graders and have found the packets to consist of very interesting topics. I have also found the packets to be very time consuming and the grading process is another project in itself. When grading, the teacher has to look at the standard and compare the students work to see if that child has meet the standard. One thing that I did like is that the students also take part in the grading process by evaluating their own work. From the first packet to the last it was nice to see the students actually reviewing their work and realizing they needed to improve upon or redo something. I was at a workshop where four different teachers graded a students packet and each teacher came up with a different grade. Everyone has a different outlook on how a student has mastered something and this can create confusion if a uniform sort of grading process is to be followed. I also believe that most teachers already do use many of the same teaching procedures that these packets introduce and therefore disregard the packets. The state has given schools money to begin implementing the grad standard packets and teachers need to give it a try. Why have the Minnesota Graduation Standards? We are trying to prepare students for the 21st century, maintain a high level of excellence in education, provide an educational system of accountibilty and prevent students from falling through the cracks. The goal of learner success for all students is embodied in the standards comprehensive goals; to create purposeful thinkers, productive thinkers, productive group participants, effective communicators, responsible citizens and self directed learners. Two academic components anchoring the Minnesota Graduation Standards are the Basic Standards and the High Standards. The Basic Standards refer to the basic skills which will be needed by individuals as adults. Students achieve these basic skills standards by passing the Minnesota Basic Skills Test in reading and math. The High Standards are comprised of the ten broad Areas of Learning with each area being further defined by the content standards developed for the primary, intermediate, middle and high school levels. The content standards emphasize the application of learned skills rather than a final score. They identify what students should know, understand and demonstrate for complex processes and concepts at a high level of achievement. Assessments are also embedded in the performance packages; these are composed of performance tasks, feedback checklists and other pertinent measures. Rubrics are used to indicate how well a student has met the criteria for the entire standard. To qualify for a high school diploma a student must complete the work in twenty four areas of the high school content standards. One thing that I like about this whole scenario is the eighth grade test taken by all students. This test holds the teachers and schools accountable for teaching all students the information needed to obtain passing mark. I think Minnesota needs to keeping the high graduation standards and possibly cancel out on the packets. The high standards would ensure that public high school graduates obtain the knowledge and skills they need for the future. I dont think we want to tell teachers how to teach or what topics to cover but we should set high standards and expect the school districts to meet them.

-- Anonymous, June 01, 1999

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