Friday, November 7, 2008

Graduate at 16

Should teenagers be able to graduate at the age of 16? In what would seem to be a vindication of Robert Epstein's suggestions toward the abolition of adolescence, comes news from New Hampshire's education officials who have announced a plan to proctor a state-wide examination in the tenth grade. Those who pass the exam can graduate early and be prepared to enter the state's community or technical college.

The news of such a shift in educational policy comes at a time when America's educational standing in the world has been falling behind other countries who already consider youth to be ready for college by the age of 16. The idea of shortening the length of time a student spends in public school has been kicked around for a while and is not considered so radical or revolutionary in these other countries. The 12 year schooling system was established during the Industrial Revlotion where it was necessary for the various socio-economic considerations of the time.

In the present service-based economy, keeping a youth in school is no longer necessitated. Few youth go on to work in factories right out of High School and the majority are being funneled into institutions of higher learning. At a psychological level, it has been argued that keeping a young person in the school system stiffles students who are motivated and innovative enough to start on their career. Allowing them into an institution of higher learning at this critical time could only be beneficial to their self actualization and motivation.

However, the move is not without its critics, who bring up a very valid consideration:

"One key concern is whether test results, at age 16, are really valid enough to indicate if a child should go to university or instead head to a technical school - with the latter almost certainly guaranteeing lower future earning potential. "You know that the kids sent in that direction are going to be from low-income, less-educated families while wealthy parents won't permit it," says Iris Rotberg, a George Washington University education policy professor, who notes similar results in Europe and Asia. She predicts, in turn, that disparity will mean "an even more polarized higher education structure - and ultimately society - than we already have.""
The problem with this is the assumption that a technical school guarantees a lower earning potential, and that students who pass the test will inevitably end up in a technical school. Neither of these are hard and fast rules. However, it is clear one thing that is to be avoided if this plan is put in motion (in all the states that are considering it) is that the socio-economic background of the student doesn't place the student before they've even placed themselves academically. A student who is able to graduate ahead of their peers should be at an advantage, rather than a disadvantage, regardless of their socio-economic status.

1 comment:

  1. From the community or technical colleges they can still move into university. I like the idea because it may also improve the quality of education in these colleges to better compete with the universities. Most fields, if not all, do not require someone who has spent 4 to 8 years in university, they can better find a qualified workforce from a very good college.

    And this system should include a higher profile for these colleges, with this effort a student is less likely to be polarized. It would now come down to what the educator can do for his student.