Here are California's high school graduation requirements:
It's odd that that page was "last reviewed: Monday, April 15, 2019" when, below what I snipped above, there's reference to the long-defunct High School Exit Exam, but I'll just look the other way on that.
These are the state's graduation requirements. Yet, every district in the state, and some individual schools, tack on additional requirements. My district recently increased its graduation requirements because other local districts had "higher standards"--and we can't let others have higher standards than we have, it just looks bad!
In order to meet these higher standards, as well as to acknowledge that some students fail a class or two in their 4 years, my school is looking at switching to a block schedule of 4 courses each semester rather than 6 courses all year. Those 2 extra courses a year give students an opportunity to take more classes and/or repeat failed classes and still graduate on time. We're going to change the entire way our academic program runs because our school board wanted to keep up with the Joneses.
In fact, our new graduation requirements look strikingly similar to the "UC Requirements for Freshman Admission" in the graphic above. Seriously, does anyone truly believe that the graduation requirements for high school should be flagship university entrance requirements? It's ridiculous on its face.
When this change takes place, students will take 8 courses a year instead of 6, cutting instructional time per course down 25%. Time is a zero-sum game, so courses will of necessity need to be watered down. Oh, we don't say that, we say that we'll "focus on key standards" and ensure students master those--then we can get to the remaining content standards, which of course we'll never do. So our district leadership can hold their chins up and out and claimed that they've "increased standards" while at the same time the rigor of our courses will drop precipitously. They will be able to bear being seen in the company of leadership from other local districts.
Do you wonder why high school is getting more
academic and less
practical, while at the same time students are less
prepared for university coursework? Hmmm.
: Keep in mind that teachers and district administrators, and maybe even school board members, have college degrees, and the following makes sense
and explains why my district is seeking to make students' high school experience more and more academic:
The presumptions that underpin our
present scramble for diplomas are as follows: that it would be a good
thing if more people went to college; that going to college is the best —
or perhaps the only — way to get ahead in life, leading, as it
supposedly does, to automatic improvement of one’s lot; that,
irrespective of what it does to the job market and to productivity, our
society is materially improved by having more people with paper degrees
in their possession; and that, in consequence of all of these things, it
represents a major scandal that people who wish to educate themselves
further are obliged to pay to do so. Alongside these presumptions are a
set of implications that, while rarely acknowledged openly, are present
nevertheless: that those who do not go to college have in some way
failed — or that they have been
failed; that every time a person declines to attend college, he is
making America a little stupider on aggregate; and, by extension, that
people who lack college degrees but nevertheless are successful are not
demonstrating an alternative way of living their lives so much as
muddling through as best they can absent vital instruction from their