A high school or equivalent diploma should mean something — that the person has demonstrated essential skills and knowledge to participate in certain aspects of society.
An employer should be able to rely on a diploma to mean the employee or applicant can read and write — not necessarily perfectly but at least to be able to read and follow directions and write notes for customers, coworkers, and managers.
An employer should be able to rely on a diploma to mean the employee or applicant can do basic math operations such as counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing for transactions and administration.
A college or technical school should be able to rely on a diploma to mean that the student or applicant can start directed learning in entry level courses.
Society should be able to rely on a diploma to mean the person has a basic understanding of how the government works, including their ability to vote, how to find laws and regulations that will apply to them such as traffic laws or that they need to apply for a business license if they’re going to start a new business, and their responsibilities as a parent to care for infants and send children to school if they’re going to have or adopt children.
These are just examples and there are more expectations that should be attached to a diploma.
Therefore, a diploma is something that must be earned and if a student hasn’t demonstrated all the required knowledge and skills, they should not receive that diploma.
Here is a proposal that might help:
- The graduation and the diploma should be considered as two distinct and separate things — all students who completed the K-12 grades of school should graduate and celebrate their accomplishment of not dropping out of school, but high school graduation should be viewed as a personal event and should not be a requirement for any job or further education
- The “all or nothing” approach of a diploma should be abandoned in favor of a badge or certificate system to recognize the essential knowledge and skills that a person has demonstrated and allow the person to benefit from those even while they work on obtaining additional badges or certificates; this would allow someone to, for example, qualify for a low-skill job after having obtained the reading badge and not require them to have the math or writing badges if those skills aren’t needed for the job; whatever badges or certificates a student has earned by graduation day should be recognized, but if a student hasn’t completed all available badges and certificates they should not be ashamed, rather they should make a commitment to continue their education after graduation and obtain the badges or certificates that they need to be successful
- The social stigma of not having a high school diploma should be addressed; there should be no shame in not completing all available badges and certificates; to facilitate a focus away from stigma and towards a positive outlook on learning and achievement, schools should ensure that they offer an adequately large variety and depth of badges and certificates so that no student can complete all of them; this means all students must choose their areas of focus in addition to knowledge and skills that are considered essential
- A diploma, then, should be a working document more like a resume of badges and certificates earned, so that everyone receives a diploma when they enter (not graduate) high school and can continuously add to it as they achieve more and more in school and also after graduation; the diploma should be maintained by the state government and only accredited schools should be able to submit badges and certificates for inclusion in a person’s diploma
- Schools should track what badges and certificates students have earned and advise them on what badges and certificates they will need depending on their life goals, and also provision extra help such as tutoring and extra time in school (before or after the regular school day, or on weekends) for students who are struggling to achieve their goals and who need more time in a positive environment that is conducive to learning; this will be especially helpful for students whose home is not conducive to completing homework for whatever reason
This idea was copied to the forums: https://civ.org/forums/topic/student-portfolio