A reader sent me this note suggesting that the GED should be used to leapfrog high achieving kids into college-level courses. I thought the ideas were worth sharing.
Here is the reader note:
Consider some facts. First, community colleges and vocational schools (both of whom offer A.A. and A.S. degrees in Georgia) only require a GED for admission. Second, a significant percentage of college-bound high school students are capable of passing the GED by end of their junior year. Not a few are able to pass it by the end of their sophomore year. (Some by the end of their freshman year.) Yet many of these students spend their last year or two in high school taking AP courses and extraneous electives.
Why not open high schools – either charter schools or magnet schools – where the GED is the entrance examination?
You pass the GED, and you’re in. You can then spend your remaining 1, 2, 3 or even 4 years as a public school student working toward an A.A. or an A.S. degree (in general studies of course … the intent is not to compete with or replace the community college or vocational/technical system). Once that’s done, you’re off to finish your BA/BS at a 4 year school, or to enter the job market directly. This approach would expose the “college prep/AP/international baccalaureate/magnet school” stuff for the obsolete ideas that they are.
Put it this way: if you are able to gain entrance into UGA, Georgia Tech, Georgia State etc. at 18, chances are you were able to pass the GED at 15 or 16. (This is also the case for the superior students at Georgia Southern, Valdosta State and any of a number of other schools.)
So, what is the purpose of further high school level instruction beyond compiling an academic record necessary for competing for scholarships and entrance to selective universities? Not only is that not a state interest, but it would be cheaper and more efficient to send such students to more specialized high schools (instead of the “one school fits all” high schools) and let the cost of their education be borne by local school districts so that they will then need only two years of (much more expensive) college education. If nothing else, it is an idea that would totally transform the HOPE Scholarship debate (and financial crisis).
It is amazing that more people – especially charter school enthusiasts – haven’t come up with this idea already. Some of the for-profit charter schools have emphasized the GED for underachieving and low-income/disadvantaged high school kids as a good way to get them into the job market. But the GED should be used as a way to facilitate beginning college instruction earlier for the high achieving kids.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog