Saturday, December 29, 2007

Differentiated Diplomas

I often wonder if a partial solution to helping colleges, trade schools, and employers determine the worthiness of students for their programs and businesses is the diploma itself. I anticipate my solution will not be popular among certain groups, but I do think it could eliminate some of debate over assessing student backgrounds and achievement.

My rough idea for four diplomas, which I would probably color code rather than officially name:

1 - The first diploma would be one where the student took the most rigorous coursework available, essentially an honors diploma for most students. Students could have their coursework scored on a points basis, and if enough points are earned then they would receive this diploma.

2 - The second diploma would be for students who took the mainstream ("normal" or typical) courses available to them when they have not earned enough points for the first diploma.

3 - The ELL (ESL) diploma for students who took a number of sheltered or ELL courses rather than reaching the basic standards or taking the basic course load of the mainstream student.

4 - The special education diploma for students with a large number of special education courses as part of their academic course loads. If the special education courses were merely support for the mainstream courses, then the second diploma would be earned.

These are just rough thoughts but make me wonder if it could be a potential assistance to determining or assessing student achievement. It may even lead to the elimination of the vast monies spent on testing and instead spent on more direct means of assisting students.

Just an idea I think about from time to time.


The Science Goddess said...

How would you suggest employers/colleges evaluate the various types of diplomas?

Dr Pezz said...

My initial thought is that the diploma color itself would reveal what level of coursework was completed to illustrate the rigor and challenge the students accomplished since the first scrutiny of the transcript, according to the college advisors with whom we spoke, is the level of coursework attempted.

If all students did not earn the same diploma regardless of rigor and success, then maybe this would entice students to reach higher and allow employers and colleges to narrow their searches for applicants by looking first at the most challenging diplomas earned and so on down the line.

Like I said, I'm sure there's much I haven't pondered, but I'm curious how this might affect admissions and hirings.

I get a sense that officials of all types want students to earn diplomas and they want to raise standards simultaneously, so this could allow both without harming students in the process.

Sigh! Rough thoughts. :)

NYC Educator said...

Here in NY all students, including ESL students, have to take all the same tests and meet all the same standards. I think it's unfair for a kid who's been here six months to take the same English exam as native English speakers, but no one asked my opinion.

Still, I'd like to see Governor Spitzer travel to Korea and try to pass such tests in their language after six months.

Thomas said...

I think we do something like this in Texas. If you took altered course work (Special Ed) you get a special certificate of graduation.
Unless of course they changed it.

Of course now that No Child Left Behind has destroyed special education (What learning disability? A good teacher can teach you up right boy) it is probably out the window.


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