U.S. governors push for more organized senior year year

Daily Sundial

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In an effort to cure “senioritis” and bridge the gap between the final year of high school and the start of college, the National Governor’s Association is pushing initiatives to re-structure the senior year of high school.

The goal is to keep students motivated and better prepare them for life after 12th grade.

During senior year, many students have completed their graduation requirements, and end up taking a variety of elective courses to fill schedule space, which the NGA considers a waste of time, because it can leave students unprepared for higher-level work after high school or for college, according to an NGA report entitled “Redesigning the American High School.”

According to the report, several states have already launched what are considered reforms, to better prepare students for life after high school.

Virginia has made it possible for high school seniors to receive a full semester’s worth of college credit before they graduate. Arkansas has implemented a new school curriculum to better prepare graduates for college.

Maine is now offering high school students one full year of technology or career-based education. Louisiana, Massachusetts and Ohio have also launched initiatives currently exclusive to their own respective states, according to information from the NGA report.

At the present time, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger does not serve on the task force assembled by Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, who is organizing some of the reforms, according to officials from Schwarzenegger’s office.

In California, there are educators who feel there is a need to pay more attention to what goes on during a student’s senior year of high school.

“There definitely is senioritis,” said Connie Semf, Valley New High School No. 1 principal. “I feel like students shouldn’t be taking only two classes (during their senior year).”

Currently, Valley New High School No. 1, located next to the CSUN dorms, only teaches freshmen and sophomore high school students, but will add the 11th grade next year and 12th grade the following year.

But Semf said she will try to see to it that students at the high school will have to maintain full loads of classes until they graduate.

Others do not agree that focusing only on improving senior year is the most effective way to improve the high school system, even if some students do lose some of their focus during their final semesters.

Allan Weiner, Cleveland High School principal and a CSUN alumnus, said at Cleveland, there is the possibility for students to satisfy the graduation requirements early if they take summer school classes, but that it is a rare case.

Focusing only on the quality of the entire high school education is more important than focusing only on senior year, Weiner said. Cleveland High School has a rigorous course load that prepares students for life after high school, he said.

“Basically, our goal is to give the (students) the type of education where they’re prepared for life,” Weiner said.