I am a Virginia resident and father of a high school student. My son is currently in the tenth grade. I am a recent separate of the United Sates Navy, so my experience with the state's educational system is limited to my current situation. I was born and educated to the high school level in New York State.
My experience and knowledge of how important quality education is has prompted me to address this issue. We, as a society must be well informed of our options and opportunities. The decision to stay in or drop out of high school must be made with the expression of every option that the decision creates. The same is true of the decision of which type of diploma to pursue. Advanced diplomas offer more options to students than “standard” diplomas do. For example, most four-year colleges in Virginia do not accept students who earn standard diplomas without additional coursework. If more parents and children understood this fact alone dropout rates would decrease accordingly.
As I am continuing my education and reflecting on my child's opportunities to advance and become a productive law abiding citizen. Along with my son I reviewed a booklet downloaded form the Hampton Public Schools website, describing the different programs available. Personally I was over-whelmed from all the information. Only after discussing with my son the career path he is interested in was I able to understand the different programs and which one was optimal for my sons success. However, there was little clarity in how the different degree and certificate programs would effect him with the educational path he chose.
I would be disappointed in a society that does not address the neglect of not giving our children and their parents all the facts when making the decisions associated with dropping out of high school. As I have assisted my son with his opportunities that have been presented by Hampton High School it is complex and borderline frustrating to decide on which avenue is appropriate for my son to complete. I can only imagine what people that do not share my ideas of college and life after high school go through when presented with confusing information regarding graduation rates and the importance of education and completing high school with the idea that education must continue.
The different options for not graduating with the intent to continue education has a devastating effect not only on the individual but the family, community and country as a whole will suffer. This is obvious in the disparity in the amount of money people make with and without post high school education. Also, in the way people pass on their ideas of education to their children; it is a vicious cycle that has been proven ineffective to our communities and must be addressed immediately. I believe a rigorous graduation accountability system will go a long way toward addressing this problem.
Accordingly, I ask that you (1) increase the target to 90 points or more to promote diploma graduates and eliminate graduation gaps among student subgroups; (2) provide a small “extra credit” value to Advanced diploma-earners; (3) weight Special and Modified diplomas below the Advanced and Standard diplomas; and (4) lower the value of all non- diploma options such as GEDs and Certificates of Completion to reflect the diminished opportunities that they offer to students. The accountability system you create will help students from low income communities, like me, to have the chance they need to achieve their full potential.