Want to offer your opinion on Georgia's newly proposed high school graduation requirements for the freshman class of 2008-09?
The state Department of Education took comments in Thomson Wednesday, and is soliciting input at other locations around the state. Information on the new rules is available by e-mailing the DOE at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by going to the DOE Web site, www.gadoe.org, and clicking on "Graduation Rules" under "Rule Revisions" on the right.
There are lots of items in the proposal, mostly along the lines of dictating the direction of study for the next group of high schoolers. "This rule is a very important part of making sure our students are college- and work-ready when they leave high school," says School Superintendent Kathy Cox in a statement accompanying the revisions.
What's missing is a better acknowledgement not of graduation, but of those who don't graduate. A recent series in The Augusta Chronicle took a look at dropout rates for area public schools, and it doesn't paint a reassuring picture.
School systems admittedly do a much better job of tracking groups than individual students. As a result, it's sometimes difficult to tell if a student is a dropout, or has simply moved away.
Richmond County schools are working on a proposal to track students individually to get a truer picture of how many quit school. Columbia County gets a black eye, however, when its technology director, Michael Kent, won't cooperate with a reporter trying to get the same picture here.
We can do better than that. More to the point, we must. It's probably fair to say Columbia County's dropout rate is better than that of most school systems; if so, there's nothing to hide in making the information easier to verify.
More than ever, taxpayers deserve a true accounting on the graduation rate now that the state has expanded its dubious program of "graduation coaches" into middle schools, with local taxpayers also taking a hit for part of the tab. Without better information on dropouts, there's no way to tell whether funds for those "coaches" are well-spent or wasted.
Whatever the case, the state Department of Education is on the right track to require students to complete rigorous, viable course work before graduating. But we all have to do more to ensure students graduate, period.
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