If you are a high school student, you probably plan to get a diploma before you leave
school. You will need one to get most jobs or to continue your education into college.
However, I am starting to wonder whether or not diplomas were ever a good idea. They are
very non-descriptive and uninformative. They prove that you took three math classes, but
diplomas do not specify which classes or what grades you received. Consider these three
|A person who barely earns D letter grades in his required academic courses and raises
his GPA to a 2.0 by taking the simplest electives possible will receive a diploma. |
|A person who takes and passes as many "AP" classes and "Dual
Enrollment" classes as available and finishes with a GPA of 3.8 earns an identical
|If the AP person chose not to take a full credit of physical education, he would not
even receive a diploma without begging the administration for a waiver. |
It is certainly necessary to have a system that certifies a person's achievements in
high school. However, "one size fits all" diplomas are not the answer. Many
people who will receive diplomas are not literate enough to read this article.
A better system of certification would be easy to create. When we leave school we should
receive a report on our education. This will be similar to a transcript. It should list
the classes that we pass, possibly with the grade we received. Affixed to this report
should be short descriptions (5-10 lines) of each class taken. Instructors should write
these descriptions by the end of each year, making them useful to anyone who reads the
report. Students should also be able to choose to have tests, such as the Writing
Assessment Test or FCAT, included on this report. This way, those tests will not be
completely worthless, as they are now.
By issuing descriptive reports, instead of blanket diplomas, we will also reduce class
sizes and improve class conduct and productivity. The state government will not be able to
bully students into taking unnecessary or unwanted classes. They will no longer be able to
take away our diplomas because we believe that 18 weeks of "Life Management" is
a waste of our time. Teachers spend far too much of their time trying to keep the class's
attention. By not forcing students into undesired classes, the students who do attend will
show genuine interest.