High School Should Not be a GPA Competition


       You may need good grades to get accepted to college.  But what you really need is good learning (and a good ability to learn) to graduate from college.  Lots of people go to college, but not a lot of people graduate from college.  A study completed in 2015 found that only 52.9% of students who began college in 2009 had earned a college degree by 2015.  This means that even if we allow students an additional two years to complete a 4-year degree, we are still have only barely half of the students graduating from college.  (Imagine the outcry if the high school graduation rate was 50%!)

       Another study has found that one reason for this dismal college graduation rate is a lack of preparation in secondary schools.  As a educator with 30 years of secondary school experience, I would suggest that it isn't so much that we don't prepare students well, but instead (perhaps) we struggle in our communication with students (and with their parents) when we talk about their actual academic ability.

       First of all, our grading system probably doesn't tell the whole story.  Grades are often the primary communication tool that a school has with its students (and their parents) about how well they are doing.  High grades imply high ability and low grades imply low ability.  But is this always true?  And what to medium grades imply?  We don't have a uniform method for determining grades from school district to school district, so does a "B" mean the same thing in every high school in America?

       Secondly, we have high school graduation requirements that are developed in each state in the United States.  Different states have different requirements; although there may be similarities.  But the bigger issue (to me) is:  Is "Graduating from high school" the same as "Being prepared for college"?  Should we have one set of criteria that says "This is sufficient for high school graduation." and another set of (higher level) criteria that says "This is sufficient for good preparation for college."  I think a lot of people feel that if they graduate from high school, then they are prepared for college-level work.  But this isn't always true.

       Hence, high school should not be a place where we only care about getting good grades and getting a high Grade Point Average (GPA).  That might be good enough to get you recognized in high school; and good enough to get accepted to college.  But students who only know how to get good grades without an accompanying ability to learn, will struggle in college.

       Everything in life isn't a competition.  Your education is one of these things.  It doesn't matter if you come in first place.  What matters is that you learn well.

Popular posts from this blog

It's OK To Struggle When You're Learning Something New

Why Is Teaching Mathematics So Different Than Teaching Other Subjects?

When Students are Thinking, Students are Learning