Standards? We don't need no stinkin' standards.
We let anyone pass through junior high. Fail all 6 classes both years? No problem. Maybe we'll pretend to care and you'll pretend to learn something in summer school, but it certainly isn't mandatory--neither the attendance nor the learning.
So these kids who flunk their way through middle school get to high school, and all of a sudden the bar, which had been in the vicinity of their ankles, is now above their shoulders. In order to graduate they have to pass 4 years of English, 2 years of math, etc. That's right, pass. And those are just the minimal state standards. Then add in districts trying to outdo each other in the I-can-set-higher-graduation-standards-than-you sweepstakes, requiring students to have passed 3 years of math, 2 years of science, 2 years of foreign language, etc. We've trained middle school students that you don't have to pass a thing in order to move on to the next grade, and then they get to high school, where actual standards enshrined in law, augmented by district policy, come into play.
Yes, they'll be able to jump through so-called credit recovery hoops if they fall far behind, and maybe they'll pass and eventually graduate even if they've learned nothing. But at the very minimum we'll require them to jump through hoops, and perhaps pirouette, before we give them a diploma.
These 9th graders show up in the Miller Hall of Learning, and they want to stare at me during class. They don't want to write anything down, don't want to practice, don't even want to try. Not even take out a pencil or a piece of paper. "I can't think today", as if that's a get-out-of-jail-free card. It's probably even been a good enough reason to be free of effort in the past, but it's not sufficient now. It's just not. Seriously, you can't subtract 3 from both sides of this equation? And you think this is OK? I get it if some traumatic event just happened, but it seems it would be the normal state of things if I allowed it to be--as it was allowed to be before 9th grade.
Such 9th graders are always a challenge. It's been awhile since I've had any freshmen but the top students, so I haven't dealt with this in a few years. If I were naive I'd be surprised that nothing has changed on this front in the many years since I've had such students. Instead I'm just disappointed.
Why we train students that apathy is OK, and why we reinforce that belief, is something I cannot fathom.