Saturday, May 22, 2010

Graduation Traditions

Since becoming a secondary principal each year at this time, I am always so stressed by the quick turn around time necessary to get all of the academic honors figured and to ensure all seniors have fulfilled their graduation requirements. Each year we dismiss the seniors prior to all of the rest of the students and genearlly need to have grades turned in the day after seniors are dismissed to allow time to print programs for the awards ceremony and graduation. Why?
I have questioned this practice since I began teaching high school students and it has gotten less and less palatable to me each year. By ending the senior's year early, we are forced to run reports using the student management system twice. We are grading seniors in a class with different criteria we are using for all of the rest of the students who have to remain the rest of the year. Worst of all, in years like this one, not only do we loose the planned five days of instruction, but also loose all of the days we moved to the end of the school year due to inclement weather (snow days).
I would really like to start a new tradition. Let's give the seniors a full year, allow teachers adequate time to score end of the year assessments and provide office support staff adequate time to carefully calculate grades and put programs together for awards celebrations and the commencement ceremony which could be held a week or so after the end of the school year.
Afterall, most of our seniors, even here in the midwest, are not needed in the fields or for other duties on the farm.


  1. The culture of needing students in the fields as soon as possible is done. The tradition of rewarding seniors by letting them out of school before the underclassmen is still current. I believe it will be really hard to change that tradition. I totally agree with the frustration of having to run grading programs twice. I don't think the public is aware (or even educators not in the High School arena) of the time it takes to get grades turned around in 24 hours, make sure they are accurate (systems and teachers make mistakes when rushed), and then get programs printed. If a program or grade is wrong those in charge do hear about it !!!! So yes keeping the seniors the same amount of days as underclassmen is logical. I agree. Another idea could be to move graduation to a later date. This might be a way to start the tradition change.

  2. This year's turnaround: 18 hours.
    Working hours in that time: 1 hour.
    Committed Staff that pulled it off: Priceless.

    My major concern is still the fact that we see it appropriate to reduce the learning of Seniors as compared to underclassmen. This means no finals (which has always been explained as a wonderful precursor to college - another post for another time), less learning, and inequitable grading. Not to mention what is happening in the last 2-3 days of the classroom since grades are due the end of the last Senior day. How about those teachers that have 50% or more all Senior classes - should they get paid for that time without students and without teaching? I'd love to see a normal June 1 graduation range. What is wrong with finishing the year together - with the student leadership that has been present all year? It's change, so there would be "pushback" of some kind, but it is sensible, and dare I say...good for kids.