Maggie: When it comes to jobs, there is evidence that a college degree is more important than ever. So one high school has decided to make a college education a priority by taking a unique and controversial approach. Keith Kocinski has the story.
Keith: Hey, everyone! I am outside of Corbett High School, which is near Portland, Oregon, and I am just about to step inside because I have one simple question for the students here. Come with me.
By a show of hands, how many of you guys plan on going to college?
Keith: Yep, that is everyone in the class. At Corbett, applying for college is not an option; it is required to graduate.
Principal Randy Trani: In order to graduate, you need to be admitted to a postsecondary degree-granting institution, and that was just ratified this year and it affects this year’s freshman class.
Keith: Only about sixty students a year graduate from Corbett High School, and when students heard about the new policy, it caused quite a stir.
Kodai Johansen: At first I thought that that was just crazy and ridiculous.
Sophie Steele: I was enraged because I was like, ‘well, what if there’s people who don’t want to go to college?’
Clare Babcock: Some kids don’t do well with pressure. And that might feel like a lot of weight on their shoulders.
Keith: So, what happens if a student doesn’t get accepted to college?
Principal Trani: That can never really happen in the state of Oregon. If you have met the state’s minimum diploma requirements, you’re guaranteed to be accepted in a community college. In fact, you don’t even necessarily have to graduate to be accepted.
Keith: Principal Randy Trani also says administrators aren’t forcing students to go to college, only get accepted. It is their choice to actually go.
Clare: I thought about it and then I was like, ‘oh, that’s a really good opportunity for other students that didn’t plan on going to college and now are encouraged to’.
Allison Croak: I think it’s an exceptional move towards empowerment and showing kids that they have more than one option.
Keith: But the new policy has its critics who say the only reason the school is requiring students be accepted to college is to boost the school’s ranking in national publications. In 2010, Corbett was ranked fifth best high school in the nation by Newsweek. But in 2011, Newsweek changed its system to include college acceptance as a major factor in its rankings.
Now, what if a student wants to join the military or even do a vocational trade?
Principal Trani: Military is an option we keep available for students. We think that’s a valuable option, also a vocational trade. That’s also acceptable as long as it’s going to give them a certificate, something that’s marketable that they can take. What we really don’t want is kids walking across the stage with a question mark or undecided.
Keith: But this isn’t the only thing that Corbett does differently. Before high school, students aren’t separated by age, but academic level. And they don’t get grades until after 8th grade.
In addition to having to be accepted to a college, students here must have passing grades and good attendance. Oh yeah, did I mention that they have to take six advanced placement classes?
School leaders and students hope to spread the Corbett philosophy to other schools around the country.
Allison: I would think it would be really interesting to see what would happen if you put this policy in place in an inner-city school or some school where those expectations aren’t there. This is a great policy, and I feel like it should spread and go beyond this already high-achieving school.
Keith: As for the chance this new policy will be successful,… Well, administrators believe odds are in their favor.
Keith Kocinski, Channel One News.
Maggie: Alright. Now it is your turn. Do you think college acceptance should be required to graduate? Head on over to ChannelOne.com and let us know what you think. Your comments might just make it on the show.