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Education United States News

New Plan Lets Top HS Students Graduate 2 Years Early 425

Posted by timothy
from the chipping-at-the-prison-wall dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that education commissioners in Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont have pledged to sign up 10 to 20 schools each for a pilot project that would allow 10th graders who pass a battery of tests to get a diploma two years early and immediately enroll in community college. The new system of high school coursework with the accompanying board examinations is modeled largely on systems in high-performing nations including Denmark, England, Finland, France and Singapore. 'We've looked at schools all over the world, and if you walk into a high school in the countries that use these board exams, you'll see kids working hard, whether they want to be a carpenter or a brain surgeon.' says Marc S. Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Kentucky's commissioner of education, Terry Holliday, says high school graduation requirements have long been based on having students accumulate enough course credits to graduate. 'We've been tied to seat time for 100 years. This would allow an approach based on subject mastery — a system based around move-on-when-ready,' says Holliday. However some school officials are concerned about the social and emotional implications of 16-year-olds going off to college. 'That's far too young to be thrown into an environment with college students who are about 18 to 23 years old. ... Most of them are just not mature enough to handle that,' says Mary Anderson, headmaster of Pinkerton Academy."
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New Plan Lets Top HS Students Graduate 2 Years Early

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  • Ill placed worries (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:37PM (#31189048) Homepage Journal

    That's far too young to be thrown into an environment with college students who are about 18 to 23 years old. ... Most of them are just not mature enough to handle that,

    Exactly. That's why we're only sending the top students. There will always be outliers who will be able to fit in at a collegeriate level when they're 16. That's the whole point of this program.
    Our worry shouldn't be whether or not they can fit in at that level (I know plenty of 16 year olds who have a better head on their shoulders than many college freshmen). Rather, our concern should be whether or not we have an accurate way of determining if a particular student is ready to move on. What we have to ensure is that this program doesn't fall prey to overzealous parents - especially in the "everyone is a winner" mentality that we currently possess in America. I guarantee that if this gets passed there will be an outcry of "my child shouldn't be discriminated against. (S)he should be able to head to college too at this grade!" They're going to have to be ready for that.

    • by Renraku (518261) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:48PM (#31189280) Homepage

      This will last until some parent decides that their kid is smarter than 'the system' and sues for 'discrimination' against '(social class)'. Where (social class) can be race, disorder, sex, location, criminal record, etc. It'll quickly be axed by the legal department of whatever schools are taking part in it. Even without this, there are still a LOT of parents who call up the teachers and demand better grades for their snowflakes.

    • by Maniacal (12626) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:51PM (#31189332)

      Agreed. Plus, this is only going to be a problem for the "pioneers" of the program. Colleges only have an abundance of 18 to 23 year olds because of the way the system is structured. If they were to change to this new system colleges are going to be full of 16 to 23 year olds in no time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      the problem is, the test is not likely to test emotional maturity. They might have the book learnin' but they won't have the lived experience. The teenaged brain is literally missing important parts that aren't fully developed until 19 or 20, mostly having to do with risk assessment and sociality. There's a reason why a 16 yr old is many times more likely to wreck a car than a 19 year old.

      Also, I teach some classes in media theory, I recently had a girl in the class who was "super bright" and graduated HS

      • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:03PM (#31189640)

        the problem is, the test is not likely to test emotional maturity. They might have the book learnin' but they won't have the lived experience. The teenaged brain is literally missing important parts that aren't fully developed until 19 or 20, mostly having to do with risk assessment and sociality. There's a reason why a 16 yr old is many times more likely to wreck a car than a 19 year old.

        Nature or nurture? We really have no way of knowing. I suspect that we find 19 year olds becoming adults precisely because we expect that to be the case. Not too long ago, 14 was a marrying age, and I don't recall anyone of that time period thinking that this was odd or 'too much for them to handle'.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 18, 2010 @05:01PM (#31190908)

          Nature or nurture? We really have no way of knowing.

          You're on the right track, but I'd just like to mention that it's very easy to know this.

          Spend time with a teenager and treat him like an equal if inexperienced adult and he will likely respond like an adult.

          Spend time with a teenager and treat him like an inferior immature kid and he will likely respond like a kid.

          It's worked that way with every teenager I know. If everybody treated teenagers like they were inexperienced adults and we let them have older peers to learn from, we would not have the stereotype of them being older kids nor a huge segment of society living down to those expectations. Cordoning teenagers off in schools and letting them only interact with people their age is one of the worst things we've done to them, next only to putting other adults in inappropriate positions of power over them, e.g. the PA story.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        beyond your concept of maturity I can't help but ask: what does this type of maturity have to do with scholastic ability?

        I digress but I don't see a link between the two concepts.

        Yes, the everyone is a winner thing is bullshit. It's not all over the US, it's specifically prevalent with helicopter parents and seriously religious ones.

        Really, the system is good, and it's something that's already possible in the us - this is just kinda like bringing it as a potential to all schools - this is a good thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ephemeriis (315124)

        the problem is, the test is not likely to test emotional maturity. They might have the book learnin' but they won't have the lived experience. The teenaged brain is literally missing important parts that aren't fully developed until 19 or 20, mostly having to do with risk assessment and sociality. There's a reason why a 16 yr old is many times more likely to wreck a car than a 19 year old.

        It is certainly true that various people mature at different rates... But those rates aren't directly tied to the number of years they've been alive.

        It isn't like there's some "maturity lobe" that sprouts out of your brain on your 19th birthday.

        I've seen plenty of mature 16-year-olds who are more than capable of handling themselves in a college environment. I've seen plenty of 30-year-olds who really aren't mature enough to be living independently.

        • by Onymous Coward (97719) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @05:09PM (#31191044) Homepage

          It isn't like there's some "maturity lobe" that sprouts out of your brain on your 19th birthday.

          Actually, there is kind of. The prefrontal cortex, responsible for "executive" thinking (e.g., self-control), doesn't finish developing until the early 20's.

          So you're wrong there, but your general idea of maturity progression being dependent on the individual I agree with.

    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:59PM (#31189542) Journal
      I dunno about that...

      I had 33 college credits under my belt (from AP classes & night classes at the local community college) when I finished my sophomore year of high school. But there was no way I was emotionally ready for college. Yes, I could do all the work. Yes, I could force myself to study when I'd rather be playing. Because I'd been in classes with older kids for several years, because I had four older siblings, I think I was pretty mature for my age. But I still wasn't ready.

      What there should be are more programs like Simon's Rock of Bard College. A transition program for kids academically ready for college, but not quite there emotionally, psychologically, etc.

      One note on this proposal that I find abhorrent -- community college is not the place for these kids to take coursework if they leave high school early. Not that there's anything wrong with community college for a lot of people (I did my time there for money & scheduling reasons)... but the best and brightest should be surrounded by the best and brightest. Let them be challenged by their peers, not held back.

      This was a fundamental problem with the trial acceleration program I took part in. Yes, I went to high school for math & science classes as a seventh-grader... but I took those classes with the regular college prep kids, not with the honors college prep kids. This held me back; I learned some bad habits, and I wasn't challenged by the pace of the coursework nor by my peers in the class. Nor did I get the benefit of the best teachers, who taught HCP classes only.

      As for your final issue:

      I guarantee that if this gets passed there will be an outcry of "my child shouldn't be discriminated against. (S)he should be able to head to college too at this grade!" They're going to have to be ready for that.

      That's exactly what happened in my school system. When I was a senior in high school (I couldn't graduate early because of the required 16 quarters of gym class per state law in NJ), my AP classes were filled with sophomores who weren't ready for them. The success of those of us in the trial run led the system to offer early AP classes to all students... they actually made AP classes a requirement for graduation for college prep kids. This killed the quality of those classes... AP Bio, AP English, AP European History were killed by the fact that 90% of the kids in the class didn't have the foundation to learn collegiate level material.

      Anyway, I'm rambling. But you're absolutely right that the no-child-allowed-to-excel-if-my-child-doesn't-qualify people are going to cause big problems for these states and districts.

      • by Andy Dodd (701) <atd7@@@cornell...edu> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:19PM (#31189942) Homepage

        "That's exactly what happened in my school system. When I was a senior in high school (I couldn't graduate early because of the required 16 quarters of gym class per state law in NJ)"

        I grew up in NJ and had a similar problem. I was lucky and discovered the Rutgers High School Scholars program, which was specifically designed to allow high schoolers to take a few classes per semester at Rutgers.

        If I had not been in the Rutgers HSS program, I would have HATED my senior year in high school, since in addition to the three classes I was taking (Gym was required, Language and Literature aka English was required for any student attending school, and Wind Ensemble because I actually wanted to take it), I would have had to fill my high school schedule with classes I had no interest in taking. Instead, thanks to HSS, I was able to get an exemption to my high school's minimum courseload requirements.

        In some ways I'm glad things worked out that way and I didn't graduate early, the "part high school part college" year of transition period helped a lot in terms of developing maturity without feeling like the system was holding me back. In addition this meant starting college at 18 (It sucked to be the one 17 year old on the bus when we went on a marching band roadtrip to Canada my freshman year), and getting to turn 21 in October of my junior year of college instead of senior year. :)

        I think it would be a far better approach than what is proposed to continue targeting an age of aproximately 18 for high school graduation, but providing more opportunities for gifted high school students to enrich themselves. We do have this to some degree with programs such as the Rutgers program I attended and magnet schools, but they're rare and far too much of a pain in the ass to participate in thanks to the "everyone's a winner" mentality that No Child Left Behind put into law.

      • by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:38PM (#31190388)

        I have news for you. Barely any of the college freshmen are ready either.

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:59PM (#31189556) Homepage

      Nonsense.

      The extra 2 years doesn't help anything.

      HELL, an extra 6 years doesn't help anything quite often.

      The people with talent are having their time wasted due to boredom and those without talent
      are also having their talent wasted due to boredom. Artificially extending childhood just
      feeds on itself.

      Off to college at 16 is not entirely unprecedented.

      The cultural failings that cause 16 year old to be children aren't fixed by subjecting them to 2 more years of high school.

      • by wurble (1430179) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @05:56PM (#31191798)
        The true value of college for the most successful people in the country is not education, it's networking. Who you befriend in college and the contacts and connections you form are the greatest value you can gain from college. Successfully taking advantage of networking opportunities requires one NOT be socially inept or awkward. Being younger than everyone else puts one at a disadvantage in such situations. You only get one shot at undergrad college really. If you take that shot while too young, you'll never get the most out of it. Sure you may get an education, but you won't get the same friends.

        So sure, someone who goes to college early may enter the workplace earlier as well. They are more likely to enter the workplace at a lower point of entry though. Someone who enters college at the appropriate age will have greater social opportunities in college and thus greater potential for forge contacts and connections which will in turn land them a much better job when they graduate. Obviously this is provided they take advantage of those opportunities. Someone younger will simply not have those opportunities presented.

        Networking is the real value of ivy league schools. Truthfully, the difference in what you learn at an ivy league school and what you learn at a "decent" university is marginal (based more on the student than the college). The true value of ivy league schools is that they are full of rich kids. Rich kids have rich parents who frequently hold positions of power. Befriend a rich kid and their parents and your likelihood of landing an extremely high paying position after college increases dramatically. I would go so far as to argue that most executive positions are only available to such people and that without those connections you will likely NEVER be able to land such a position.

        Anyway, to sum it up, college's true value isn't just education; it also has social value. A younger individual may be ready for a college education, but such a person will be at an extreme disadvantage socially. In turn this puts them at a disadvantage for life rather than giving them a "head start." If giving someone a "head start" is the real concern, then you might as well drop out of high school at 16, get a GED, and get a job. You'll be working at 16 instead of "losing years" in high school and college. Landing a good job isn't just about your education, it's about your connections.
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Exactly. That's why we're only sending the top students. There will always be outliers who will be able to fit in at a collegeriate level when they're 16. That's the whole point of this program.

      I think you're confusing intellectual maturity with mental maturity.

    • I disagree, I think this is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. These are kids who clearly are maximizing the investment of tax dollars their community is giving for them to have free education. For whatever reason, you give them a subject to learn, and they learn it. I'd say these kids should be given free education through their undergrad degree, if anything, not booted out to fend for themselves in community colleges (which vary wildly in quality) or sent off to full universities where they

    • by Mikkeles (698461)

      However some school officials are concerned that fewer students in school will lead to redundancies in the school staff.

      FTFT

      A 16 year old who can't handle being in college is either retarded or was reared wrongly. The former wouldn't apply in this situation and the second is unlikely as they have already demonstrated an ability to take matters into their own hands to advance beyond the expectations.

    • by kramulous (977841)

      I've taught a second year level mathematics subject where there was this really young kid in it. Sure he may have been a child prodigy but he definitely had a lack of maturity of thought. It was quite apparent.

      He was also alienated. Given his 'peers' that is quite an accomplishment. Still, he walked away with one of the top results. Credit where credit is due. But there was nothing spectacular.

      Sorry, but I'll always subscribe to the thought that you learn more at school than just the academic stuff.

    • by sonnejw0 (1114901) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:24PM (#31190076)
      I graduated a year early from highschool and went straight to college with enough dual-enrollment/AP credits to be considered a junior. That didn't work out, and I ended up taking the second semester off. I just didn't have the maturity, experience, or sense of who I was to live on my own and make healthy decisions. That gave me time to figure out what I wanted to do, so I reapplied to a different program and got right back on track.

      My sister-in-law also went to college a year ahead of schedule. She stayed with it, but she still hasn't quite gotten her feet on the ground six years later.

      Sure, some kids, like 2 entire kids out of 6 billion. would be mature enough to be great at 16 out and on their own. I don't think that's very many, though. At that age, they barely have experience enough to know how to navigate a four-way stop. I think that the parents would have to be very involved in teaching their child how to live on their own and be responsible for that to work. It takes good parenting more than a smart kid for this to work.
    • by trb (8509) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:35PM (#31190344)
      I went to college when I was 15 and was graduated at 19 (in the 1970s at a New England engineering school). I was bored in high school, where I had good test scores and mediocre grades. I had skipped 5th grade, then the college asked if I wanted to enroll before my final year of high school.

      I was not ready either emotionally or academically, but I went to college and struggled through. I did enjoy myself, and I did learn a lot, but I wasn't ready. Engineering school was tough. If I went to liberal arts school, I think I would have had a harder time socially and an easier time academically. I think engineering schools are easier socially, because all the kids are nerds, and they tend to be more open-minded, more practical, and less socially exclusive than liberal arts students.

      I think that most kids who are academically ready for college two years early probably aren't ready socially. And it's not good that they are thrust into the role of "fully responsible wage earner" two years early. I don't really see what problem this is trying to solve.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sir_Sri (199544)

      They're only not ready now because the normal age is older. We had this problem in ontario when they got rid of grade 13, oh the tragedy that 17/18 year olds would be too young for university (compared to the previous years 18/19 year olds, they aren't mature enough blah blah blah. Well you know what, when everyone else is 17, it's not really a problem. The problem was more on our end as the institutions because we now had to (for example) shift how much alcohol we could serve, and to whom and had to star

    • by elrous0 (869638) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:49PM (#31190662)
      Oh man, I wish they had this when I was a teenager. I was smart enough to have passed these tests and wasted most of my time in high school getting my ass kicked by bullies who didn't belong there any more than I did. College was like heaven to me. I was finally at a place where I could learn without having to put up with getting the crap kicked out of me in the hallways. My high school teachers made college out to be so hard, but I found it was a LOT easier. You can actually relax when you realize that half the kids in your class aren't knuckle-dragging, illiterate morons whose only function in school is to waste teachers' time with disciplinary problems and to torment the kids whose gas they will one day be pumping.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mcgrew (92797) *

      Leonard: "You went to college."

      Sheldon: "Yeah, but I was only twelve."

  • by Bruiser80 (1179083) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:39PM (#31189094)
    They'll only be far to young if they're the only ones. I have a feeling a lot of kids will be able to show the proper aptitude, and I have a feeling that college entrance exams will be re-tooled and remedial courses in college will go up a bit.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Pete Venkman (1659965)

      Wasn't there an article on here recently about US college freshman being less prepared than in years prior?

    • by afidel (530433)
      Even then it's generally not a problem. I attended university part time in my junior and senior year through what my state calls the post-secondary enrollment option. It's basically a talented and gifted program on steroids. I had a friend who graduated with their associates two weeks before they got their HS diploma =)
  • by addikt10 (461932) * on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:40PM (#31189096)

    If you are achieving that much at that time in your life, why on earth would you be going to community college? Either make sure that their high schools can challenge them, or get them to a college with an academic environment that will.

    A community college does not have that environment.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Preach on! My school offered a similar program (mid and late 90s), where you didn't "graduate" early, but were sent to the local community college for classes and credits were applied back to your High School - this gave a lot of the students that participated (that I spoke with at least) a pretty negative opinion of the whole advanced education thing.

    • by cptdondo (59460) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:46PM (#31189218) Journal

      Depends on the community college. There are some that are academically rigorous and serve as the first 2 years of a 4 year college curriculum at a much lower cost. And there are 4 year colleges that are diploma mills.

      Don't get caught up in the label.

    • Depends on the college and the course of study. NVCC is well regarded as a prep school of sorts for GMU, GWU, and UMD. Do your first year or two at a much lower cost than a "real" university.

    • by copponex (13876) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:53PM (#31189392) Homepage

      Community colleges are filled with people who choose to be there. This is an entirely different environment from American high schools, where attendance is compulsory, backed by the full force of truancy laws.

      Trying to get everyone a good basic education has its merits, but in some other countries you choose at 16 whether you want to go to college or receive vocational training or leave school altogether. This seems to work out well for everyone.

      And as someone who absolutely despised high school, I know I would have done much better mentally and academically, even at the worst community colleges. I doubt any university would have penalized me for attending college courses (even if poor by their standards) before I hit 18.

    • by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:58PM (#31189516) Journal

      I live in Maine, so this has received some extra coverage here. According to what I'm seeing, this is really targeting the kid who has no interest in going on to a 4-year college, but instead wants to jumpstart their career in a skilled or semi-skilled trade (auto mechanic, plumber, etc).

      There's also an additional benefit - it identifies weaknesses in those kids that fail the boards, and part of the plan is to focus on subject areas that specific kids are weak on. So if you did well in English on the boards but flunked Math, they might give you more Math classes in 11th grade and back off on the English classes. The target being a student who is well-rounded enough to pass all segments of the board exam.

      In some ways, it divides the kids between those who want to continue on with education, and those who want to get education over with as quickly as possible (for one of many reasons) and get on with a career. It almost turns high school into a 2-year or 4-year option, much like college is today.

      Those who want a 4-year+ degree will stay in high school and go on the Advanced Placement track like they do today.

      Those who do not can take the board exams in 10th grade and, if they pass, they can go to community college or start their careers, with a valid high school diploma. They can continue on to the 11th and 12th grades if they wish, or if they fail the board exam the areas they failed in can be focused on.

      Yes, to a point, this is "teaching to the test", and there are some valid concerns surrounding that. But I'm not entirely convinced it's any worse than "teaching to a grade", and at least those kids that want out and are willing to work hard can get out with a diploma.

      • Thanks for the insight -- I'm surprised it's targeted at kids who do not likely wish to go on to a traditional 4-year college.

        This makes a lot more sense... it's kind of like siphoning off the trade-school kids so they can focus on what will really prepare them for the world of work. Better for them, and better for the students who remain in the AP track.

        My only concern is, are kids at 15-16 really able to make that kind of decision that will affect them for the rest of their life? Sure, some are... but
      • by ubercam (1025540) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:38PM (#31190382)

        Disclaimer: I was a Foreign Language Assistant in a vocational school in Germany.

        This sounds exactly like Germany with their vocational schools and apprenticeship system.

        Want to do a skilled trade? Go to school and learn all about it until age 16, then you're off on an apprenticeship for a year or two. Then you can come back for more school afterwards, or continue working (I think).

        Want to go to university? You have two options AFAIK: be smart enough in the initial weeding out process to go the Gymnasium route (that's their word for what we would generally consider as AP classes in high school, except the school is entirely devoted to AP students), or you can do your apprenticeship and come back to school and do I think 2 years of Fachoberschule (vocational/technical secondary school). With an FOS diploma, you're allowed to go to university, at least in Hessen. I can't comment on other federal states.

        My info might not be 100% accurate... I only observed it in action and participated from a teacher's perspective.

    • by afidel (530433) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:59PM (#31189546)
      The only way I mastered calculus was through a CC, I flunked it a couple times at two different engineering schools before taking it with someone who could actually teach at the local CC. Engineers and math people generally can't teach worth a damn, even less so in subjects they don't care about. I really don't see where having smaller class sizes and teachers who actually give a damn is a negative.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ichijo (607641)

        The only way I mastered calculus was through a CC, I flunked it a couple times at two different engineering schools before taking it with someone who could actually teach at the local CC.

        I had the opposite experience. I flunked Calc 2 a couple of times at the local community college (MCC) before taking it at the nearby university (ASU) and passing with an A.

    • by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Because they are still minors, and going "away" to college (or any other place really) isn't something easy to do - leases for an apartment, phone service, etc.

      Community colleges will let them get the basic courses out of the way, like the English, Art, etc. requirements. They'll end up with an AA degree and can transfer to what you probably consider a "real" school. As a bonus, they won't be minors when that happens, so moving out of the area of their parents will be much easier at that point.

      In truth, t

    • by Spazmania (174582)

      Because the local community college is run under the same governmental entity that runs the high schools, so they can be tooled so that they're A) able and B) willing to accept kids who've had only two years of high school.

      Presumably if two-year graduation for those who pass the test becomes the norm, mainstream colleges will begin to accept the graduates as well.

      I really wish this had been around when I was in high school. If I'm being charitable, maybe half of my high school classes were something better

    • Some rigorous, 4-year colleges will take 16 year olds as freshmen. The best one is Simon's Rock College [simons-rock.edu] which exists solely for that purpose. One can get a good overview [earlyentrance.org] of other institutions that have related programs.

      I went to Simon's Rock for two years and afterwards attended a top-10 ranked university for two years. I think most students who care strongly about academics could benefit from starting college early, and if they went to Simon's Rock they would get better teaching and better peers than
    • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:16PM (#31189894) Homepage Journal

      A community college does not have that environment.

      That's a pretty bold blanket statement you're making there.

      It varies a lot by the CC. There are some CCs that are essentially two more years of high school, filled with losers who want to be able to say they "went to college" but who have no desire to learn any more than they have to in order to get the minimum passing grade. There are others that offer intellectual challenge and rigor equal to that found at the best four-year colleges and universities, and if you don't believe that, then you simply haven't learned enough about the issue to have an informed opinion.

      Many, many high school graduates, to say nothing of the HS juniors and seniors who will be taking advantage of the program discussed in this story, would do much better at a good CC than they would at Enormous State University. Campuses are smaller and have more of neighborhood feeling. Classes are smaller and taught by professors who see teaching as their primary mission, rather than a distraction from research. Classmates are an interesting mix of people from various age groups, many having significant life experience, rather than a bunch of other 18-year-olds who haven't figured out that they can't coast in college the way they did in high school. Life after class isn't dominated by the toxic "Greek" life and athletic obsession that eats up so much resources at ESU.

      It isn't for everyone. There are students who can graduate from high school and be ready for the challenges at ESU, or even Harvard or Stanford, from day one. Good for them. But like a lot of 18-year-olds, I screwed up my first try, and years later CC offered me a way back into the academic world. Given that I'm now within a year of my PhD, you can probably guess that I don't feel academically deprived by having an associate's degree to my name.

    • by medeii (472309)

      Community colleges offer virtually the same learning experience as a full university, especially for basic education credits -- and what do most students take in their first two years, anyway? So unless you live within walking distance of a top-ten university, chances are you'll be just as challenged by the content, and you get all the benefits of geographic accessibility at a fraction of the cost. Plus, most community colleges have a maximum class size of 30 rather than 300.

  • maturity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AntEater (16627) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:40PM (#31189100) Homepage

    '... Most of them are just not mature enough to handle that,' ...and they never will be as long as we continue to treat them like little children instead of young adults.

    • Re:maturity? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by QuantumRiff (120817) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:09PM (#31189740)

      I used to work at a college. You would be scared to meet the parents of the kids enrolling there. you'd think little johnny was 12, not 19. Hell, most 18 year olds aren't mature enough, but you know what, eventually, they become that way, or they drop out. Not everybody gets to be an astronaut when they grow up (I say as I look at my demotivational poster)

      I started college at 16 part time, found things like WRI121 incredibly easy, compared to AP English, which would have gotten me the same credits.. In fact, by the time I graduated high school, I had enough credits to get to other schools Transfer requirements, which are often much different than admissions requirements.

      But damn. At 17, my grandpa and his buddies lied about their ages so they could fight in a war. And now, we can't have kids in classes with people a few years older then them? Boy do I feel alot older than I am.. I'm starting to sound like my Grandpa.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wramsdel (463149)

      I absolutely agree. It's probably going to sound curmudgeonly, but there's been a huge shift in the U.S. from guiding behavior to controlling environment. This is great...until the environment is no longer controlled. As soon as that happens, a child whose environment has been meticulously managed from birth suddenly finds her/himself completely unable to cope. Blech. My kid's only one, but my philosophy even now is to help him understand himself, characterize his environment, and act accordingly. It

  • "However some school officials are concerned about the social and emotional implications of 16-year-olds going off to college." Community college is like 13th grade. If they're mature enough to work to graduate 2 years early, they'll be fine.
  • Why not set up some sort of apprentice system for the student who excels, yet is too socially inept or immature for College? Let them enter the workforce for a couple of years before they move on in school. I know it sounds crazy, but maybe offer a tax incentive for small businesses to take on these students, or maybe subsidize their wages. I'm sure there are many ways to encourage the idea.

    IMO the real benefit would be from having the students experience the drudgery of the low level, "real" job and ho

  • However some school officials are concerned about the social and emotional implications of 16-year-olds going off to college. 'That's far too young to be thrown into an environment with college students who are about 18 to 23 years old. ... Most of them are just not mature enough to handle that,' says Mary Anderson, headmaster of Pinkerton Academy.

    Are you saying Americans are immature? Kids in other countries seem to handle this okay.

    Maybe if you didn't keep 16 year olds stuck in high school when they are ready for college level or trade study then they wouldn't act like such high school students.

  • Thrown? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by McNally (105243) <mmcnally@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:46PM (#31189228) Homepage

    Quoted in the write-up:

    "That's far too young to be thrown into an environment with college students who are about 18 to 23 years old."

    Nobody's talking about "throwing" anybody who isn't ready, just about making it an option for students who are. Options are good, no?

  • Great idea! (Score:3, Funny)

    by NotBornYesterday (1093817) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:47PM (#31189252) Journal
    This would allow those kids in PA to avoid the voyeurs [slashdot.org] in the school system there.
  • I think the fears about the kids at college are a bit unfounded. Due to being at the tail end of the cutoff date for starting my grade (which at the time was Nov 1 - I was born October 11), I ended up graduating high school normally, as well as starting college at 17. I know several other students who opted to take summer school classes to skip the 11th grade and graduate a year early. Me nor any of them that went to college had any issues.

    The reality is most 16 year olds who are mature enough to handle

  • In our small rural school the population of kids declined by 10% this year (but the school taxes went up 5%) and is projected to decline another 5% next year. And the taxes are going up another 3%.

    So with *this* plan - kicking the kids out of high school two years early - I guess I can plan on my taxes going up another 20-30%?!?!?!

    And then in another eight or so years there will be *no* students due to our aging population, and the fact that fucking school taxes are so high nobody younger that 50 could *aff

  • Do we want to extend childhood into a person's 30s and have them live at home as we're seeing a lot of people do? Do we want teenagers with little more maturity than 10 year olds? Let's increase the drinking, driving and voting age, because they can't handle it.

    Or do we want to cut short a kid's childhood so that they start working at 15? Send them to the salt mines young so they can learn their trade early! Never mind the ones that can't handle it and end up depressed or suicidal. Never mind that you've ro

  • Basically, this means the public schools get out of having to pay for educating their top students two years early, while the stuents are then expected to rack on an additional two years of community college debt, before undergrad programs start to take them.

    Or, the kids somehow jump straight to a four year school and then find themselves SOL when no employer wants to hire 20 year olds.
  • Chicken or Egg? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:51PM (#31189334) Journal

    That's far too young to be thrown into an environment with college students who are about 18 to 23 years old

    (1) you require college students to have a HS diploma,
    (2) you're requiring students (generally) to complete 12 years of education, and
    (3) you don't let them start until they're between 5 and 6

    It's not much of a stretch to realize that you're not going to find many 16 year olds in college.

    That said, there is still a lot of maturing to do for most 16 year olds. Even a lot of 18 year olds are pretty slim on the maturity front. I'll be honest, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be sending my 16 year old off to college somewhere. A local CC, though, wouldn't be a big deal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      My highschool had 'dual enrollment' with the college. That meant you took college classes while you were in high school for credit in each. Some classes were at the highschool, but some were at the college. They didn't let me start until my Junior year (I tried to go my freshman year), but guess what? I was 16.

      On the other hand, after seeing how I breezed through it, and my sister had even better grades than I did, historically speaking, they let her go as a freshman.

      So yeah, as a 14 year old, she was i

  • I went to the University of New Mexico at 14. Graduated at 19, Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in engineering. Masters from Purdue at 21. I'm now 23 and a semester away from my Ph.D.

    Believe it or not, I am extremely social!

    My girlfriend, who is a foreign national, started her University studies at 16.

    It is all about individual cases. Great to see more flexibility in the educational system.

    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      What did you do, sign up for /. when you were 10?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by d474 (695126)

      I went to the University of New Mexico at 14. Graduated at 19, Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in engineering. Masters from Purdue at 21. I'm now 23 and a semester away from my Ph.D.

      Believe it or not, I am extremely social!

      You may be "social", but I guarantee most people find you obnoxious and annoying when you are trying to be "social". Look at the way you introduced yourself. QED.

  • I suppose this is an easier solution than improving high schools so that they are able to educate rather than detain our brightest students.

    I have nothing against this. If it works, do it. But it highlights what I think is a fundamental problem with the American education system: we try to give everyone the same education in the same place. You can't give the brightest what they need if you're too busy trying to regroup the stragglers.

  • Poppycock! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ian Alexander (997430) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @03:52PM (#31189366)

    'That's far too young to be thrown into an environment with college students who are about 18 to 23 years old. ... Most of them are just not mature enough to handle that,' says Mary Anderson, headmaster of Pinkerton Academy."

    Speaking as a 19-year old who is attending a community college with a high enrolment of under-18's (via the Running Start [k12.wa.us] program) I can say with full confidence that a lot of them are quite capable of handling it. They tend to place into the same classes as most freshmen anyways, they do about as well, and most of them adjust quite easily to the community college culture.

    CC is easy stuff, not much harder than high school in the first place. I think this is a great move - it's at least worth a try.

  • There was two similar programs in Boston (in the late 70s, early 80s.)

    I can't recall the name of the programs. The first would allow a high school senior
    to spend their entire year as a freshman in college, and it would count both as their
    freshman year in college and senior year in high school.

    Another was the open campus program, it would allow a senior (I did it both senior and junior years) to take college courses as a regular student
    and receive credit in both high school and college. The student still was

  • In California we have the CHSPE [chspe.net], which is a High School proficiency exam you can take once you're 16. I took it and left HS two years early, went on to a community college then a 4 year and got my degree. For me it was a great option since I was essentially just twiddling my thumbs in HS.

  • If you're a homeschooler, and you're 16 or older, and you can pass the placement exam (math and english) at the community college at the college level, you can become a "concurrent enrollment" student and take classes for transferrable college credit.
  • The entire state has a program called Running Start where you can take a test your junior year and if you pass the school district pays your tuition for the local community college. I went to the college full time, never took another class from the HS, and had my college graduation for my AA the day before the HS graduation. Only thing public schools ever did for me besides waste my time.
    • The best part of it all was I got a job on campus as a math tutor. So here I was when i was 17ish teaching Calculus to a bunch of idiots 10 years my senior. It was funny when the girls asked me out only to find out I was way younger than they, that happened frequently.
  • by RemoWilliams84 (1348761) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:02PM (#31189604)

    Pennsylvania should know if they are ready to move on to college based on the live webcam feeds they have of the students.

  • by aztektum (170569) on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:05PM (#31189680)

    If a student is performing well, give them higher level content. This "everyone is the same because we say so" and keeping a linear structure to learning for all is asinine.

  • It's called a GED. Unless you are trying to get into law school or medical school right out of high school, a GED is all that you need.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I was wondering if anyone would mention that. When I was in highschool, a junior came up with the plan to drop out, get a GED and then go right to college.

      Sadly, she wasn't one of the brightest ones, and I don't think she did it... But it was definitely possible and made me consider the option as well.

  • We used to have a move-on-when-ready system, only the other way around. If you weren't ready to move on, you would fail and repeat the course/year/whatever. Strange to see this same concept offered as a revolutionary new approach for top students. Maybe it wouldn't be necessary to do this if the less capable students were forced to master a topic before moving on. How many of these apparently super-bright tenth graders are really just good students surrounded by kids that haven't been forced to perform for

  • Drop out (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BDZ (632292) <rich@fourduc[ ]com ['ks.' in gap]> on Thursday February 18, 2010 @04:14PM (#31189850)
    I like the idea of this program.

    I hated HS and would have done anything to get out early.

    In the end, as there was no early out, I simply dropped out of HS entirely. A bit thereafter I took the insanely easy GED exam, got my paper and started at my local community college in what would have been my senior year in HS.

    I don't regret that decision. Never have. And once you have your BS/BA no one cares about your HS history.
  • "...we have been tied to seat time for 100 years..."
    Amen.
    My niece lives in Washington and was able to take advantage of this program. She graduated from Washington State University last year, at the age of 20. That she is a hard worker goes almost without saying, but I see nothing but good about rewarding that hard work with the huge head start she got in the pursuit of her baccalaureate.
  • Running Start [k12.wa.us]

    Similar program in Washington state, has been around for 20 years now. Students can enroll full-time in college and fully skip the last two years of high school if they meet the admissions criteria (though you don't get your diploma until the end of your 12th year.) This gets them an Associates in Arts and Sciences, which is immediately transferable to any Washington 4-year public university, and is guaranteed by law to fulfill their basic education (e.g. non-major) classes at that university

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