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Old 09-15-2010, 03:31 PM
239 posts, read 716,486 times
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For current High School students do you think study of a foreign language is required to graduate? Should it be a requirement or just an elective? Yes, I know learning a foreign language is a good idea but learning a variety of other things is also a good idea also. There are only so many hours of the day.

What do you think about the requirement for high level math in High School? Should that be a requirement or not? Or only an elective? My dughter wants to be a Librarian when she graduates. Wouldn't learning more about social studies or english be more valuable than Calculus?
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Old 09-15-2010, 03:45 PM
Location: California
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The requirements for most high school graduates mirrors the minimum requirements for entry into college. Some school districts modify that to meet their own needs with some falling below that and others exceeding it. Those are the ones that are questionable in my mind. I don't think anyone needs calculus to graduate from HS. I suspect that even if a foreign language or higher math is not needed for someone chosen career it does force the brain to work in different ways. Is it something that should be required by everyone? Hard to say.

Our HS does not require a foreign language to graduate but it is required to go to a State college. Spanish, German, French, Japanese (this may have been cut due to budget constraints) and Sign Language were the choices my kids had. My son was unable to pass his second year language but since he was not going off to a 4 year college right away it wasn't a problem for him. He is getting an AA first then transferring to a 4 year and that path doesn't have a foreign language component. Algebra was required to graduate HS. Algebra-Geometry-Intermediate Algebra was the college track. Again, my son didn't complete this but unlike foreign languages we can't get around the math requirement for college and he completed Intermediate Algebra his first year of CC and will have to take one more college level math class before he can transfer. I think, in a way, these course act as a gatekeeper to higher education by allowing those who have the ability to use their brain in different ways to prove they are ready while eliminating others from the applicant pool. I'm not against that.

As a librarian a foreign language could be quite beneficial. Mathematics will come in handy since library science involves a great deal of computer system design as well. Even if you could get some courses waived so much will depend on the college your daughter goes to and what THEY require for entrance into, and graduation from, the program.

Last edited by Ceece; 09-15-2010 at 03:56 PM..
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:00 PM
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I'm a graduate of Robert E.Lee High School of Midland,Texas.I had to take two years of a foreign language.I chose spanish.Whenever I graduated, we had to take 3 years of math but now high school students in Midland ISD have to take 4 years in all 4 core subjects.I'm not a fan of this move cuz its just gonna make more kids stop going to school.I only passed my third year of math which was Algebra 2 because the teacher gave 100's on every homework assignment if you did it and because I had modifcations.Also, in Algebra 2 tests did not make up a high percentage of the course grade.Some people are just not capable of higher-level math.
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:51 PM
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When our district required Algebra 2 for graduation in the name of raising standards, it really impacted our graduation rate. I agree with Westerntraveler. Not only are some people just not capable of higher-level math, such as conic sections and logarithms, but there are also people for whom learning a foreign language is a serious obstacle. Rather than rising to the challenge, many of these people leave school altogether. The sensible ones go to a vo-tech program at the local community college or work in an entry-level job for minimum wage. Many of the others turn to robbery, burglary, and drug dealing, all of which are rampant in our area.

As at Ceece's school, students don't need the FL class for graduation, but they do need it to get into a state college. The problem that the foreign language teachers report is that all the students are automatically enrolled in the college prep track (new last year), and the counselors tell them that they have to have it for graduation. The only way they can drop it is for their parents to sign them out of the college track. This is unlikely for parents who just don't go to school unless their child is suspended.

With over half of our students failing the state graduation test for English, one would think that the district would be a bit more concerned about that, than about whether or not a student who can't pass an English exam has earned the credits needed to attend a state university. Some students are taking three years of English at the same time in order to graduate!

I'm a fan of going back to the days when kids who struggled academically could take Basic math, Consumer math, and Business math. We didn't have to have foreign language either, and I still got into a good private college without any at all. Because I was a math major, I didn't have to take it then either. I only started getting credit for FL after I had traveled abroad and learned enough to get by.
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Old 09-15-2010, 09:57 PM
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Our HS requires students to take four years of the four core courses - math, science, english and Social studies and math has to be up to Alg. II. That's the same of students that go to the local tech school. Most kids are strongly encouraged to take foreign language for at least 3 years for the reason that Ceece stated above, it's a minimum requirement for most colleges. Most kids don't know what they want to do when they grow up. It would be a shame to close the door on a career because they thought they might want to do something, changed their mind and can't do it because they didn't take a couple of classes in HS. Our school requires 26 classes over four years - that's plenty of leeway to take some exploratory classes. I think a foreign language should not only be required for HS students, it should be required in middle school too. Speaking more then one language is the norm in the rest of the world, it should be here too.
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Old 09-15-2010, 10:00 PM
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I don't think that a foreign language should be a requirement at all.
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:12 AM
Location: In a house
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I don't think students should be taking a foreign language just because it's required. I think they should be taking one because it's a good idea. It's a shame it has to be required.

When I went to HS, only one semester of foreign language was required. I took three years of Spanish. I figured, I was more likely to need to communicate with someone who had difficulty speaking English, than I would needing to know the cosin of whatever kind of math expression you do with calculus.

It was a pretty accurate guess on my part. I've had to ask directions while I was in Puerto Rico, and was able to help a student from Spain adjust to campus life when I went to college. I've never had any need or reason to even know that cosin is a math term, let alone how to use it.

Learning Spanish also made it -infinitely- easier to learn french when I was living in Montreal. I had the grammatical basics down - latin languages place words differently in their sentences than English. It's also helped me appreciate the nuances of dialect in our own language; the Boston accent vs. Brooklyn vs. Dallas vs. New Orleans...

Unless your child is planning on spending the rest of her life in the same town and never leaving, a learning a foreign language can -only- be beneficial. Again, I think it's a shame that it has to be required; parents and students should be wanting to learn this anyway.
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:30 AM
Location: Northern Virginia
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2 years (of the same language) were required at my high school. I'm not sure if that was a California requirement, or a district one though.

Honestly, I learned far more about English grammar from Latin class than I ever did in English class. There's something good about taking a very rule based, structured language. I was horrible at it (by far the hardest class for me to grasp), but it really stretched my brain. It also greatly improved my verbal SAT scores.

I'm a fan of the requirement.
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Old 09-16-2010, 10:49 AM
Location: Camberville
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I'm of mixed opinion as to if it should be required. If kids were more serious about their studies, I would say 6 years minimum (at least 2 in middle school and 4 years of high school) foreign language. However, most kids won't take it seriously so that holds everyone else back.

Language 1 and 2 (and often 3) in my high school were awful because it was full of slackers who didn't begin to try. My high school required 2 years, and most students started at Language 2 because middle schools offered Spanish and French. I went to Spanish 7 and French 2 and the difference was quite noticable once you passed Spanish 4. That's why I'm not impressed when I hear people say "I took 2/3 years of Spanish and don't remember it." Most students I went to Spanish 5, 6, and 7 with still speak it today, 5 years later, whether or not they use it all the time. Of course, it's rusty if they did not continue to use it, but most who went to the higher levels of Spanish had Spanish/Latin American studies as a double major or minor and studied abroad in either Latin America or Spain. My college specifically REQUIRED 3 years of the same language and "strongly recommended" 4 or 5 unless your school did not offer that many.

My school also required 4 years of all of the core subjects, which I agree with. My college required 4 years of math and English and 3 of social studies (I think I ended up with 6 by the time I graduated high school) and 3 sciences. I can't imagine only requiring up to algebra 2- that's what I started my freshman year!
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Old 09-16-2010, 01:07 PM
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If I went to highschool it would have been 3 years of math (you could optionally take a fourth), 4 years of english, 4 years of history, 1 year of foreign language (you could take a second) and 3 units of science. I was unschooled so I didnt do any of it but my younger sister has to, but shes taking most of it in summer school to skip a grade.
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