To Walk or Not to Walk
Her parents had sent out the invitations to the graduation party. Relatives were coming from out of town. The cap and gown had arrived. Yearbooks were signed and the prom was a hazy memory.
Everything was in place until she failed English. Now she won’t graduate until she retakes the course this summer.
He needed a math course to complete all the graduation requirements. Illness kept him from completing the course and he too will not qualify for graduation until he finishes his Incomplete. He won’t walk in June either.
Another student, a child of a military family, transferred to the school as a senior when his father was reassigned. The boy had already passed all the state tests in his last school and was on schedule to graduate this year. Unfortunately, he failed the required graduation test in his new state. So not only does he not get to graduate with his class in his old school, he doesn’t get to graduate at all until he retakes and passes the test this summer.
So what do you do with kids who should have graduated in June but won’t really finish all their requirements until August? Do you let them walk with their class? Or do you hang tough and only let kids walk across the stage who have “earned” their diploma?
It’s a dilemma, isn’t it? And each case is different. The child of the military family didn’t choose to move. On the other hand, the kid who failed English simply chose not to do the work and her parents had been notified early enough to right the course. The student who was ill simply couldn’t complete the course. Do you make exceptions based on effort or circumstance?
Some schools allow kids to walk anyway, to cross the stage at graduation and receive an empty folder. (In fact, in some large schools, all kids receive an empty folder to avoid mix-ups; the diplomas are later mailed.) Other schools refuse to let kids walk who haven’t completed all the required courses, insisting that allowing these students to walk “compromises the integrity” of the process.
But here’s the thing – in most schools, there’s no big graduation ceremony in August. And no kid is coming back a year later to walk with a younger class. So most of these kids and their parents will be denied the traditional celebration.
I used to refuse to let kids walk, citing the “integrity” of the program. I think I’m doing a Ravitch. Let ‘em walk. Otherwise the penalty exceeds the crime. But only if they’re missing just one course or test.