Death by concordance: A mandatory read for parents and students

‘Concordance diplomas are state approved and granted to students who did not perform well enough to earn a standard high school diploma and are the equivalent of a consolation prize.’

BY GOLIATH J. DAVIS, III, Ph.D., Contributor

PINELLAS COUNTY — This column is a must-read if you are a student, parent, or guardian of a child in the Pinellas School District or any district in the State of Florida. Students’ futures depend on understanding the issues underlying concordance diplomas and how they may relegate recipients to a life of poverty and struggle.

In the past, I have asked school officials to track students who received concordance diplomas to discern whether or not their post-graduate experiences vary significantly from others in their cohort who earned standard diplomas. I am not aware that such a study has been undertaken.

Concordance diplomas are state approved and granted to students who did not perform well enough to earn a standard high school diploma and are the equivalent of a consolation prize. I defined concordance and standard diplomas in the previous article, ‘PCS Black graduation rates: Underlying issues,’ and gave a detailed explanation of the issues.

The urgency of my request rests with what occurred on April 6. Superintendent Kevin Hendrick attended COQEB’s monthly meeting to explain his position on book/material bans and answer questions from the membership. I opened another conversation regarding Lakewood High School and broader educational issues.

During the discussion, the superintendent reported what I and others already knew. The State of Florida has raised the criteria for obtaining a concordance diploma and, in essence, validated the position I have articulated for years, i.e., concordance diplomas are substandard.

The Pinellas County School District has boasted for years that it has the state’s highest graduation rate, and I’ve always countered with, “It’s because of the substandard concordance diplomas.” Now that the criteria for earning the concordance diploma have increased and the preliminary data indicates a higher failure rate, district administrators are predicting a decline in graduation rates overall and a significant decrease in African-American graduation rates.

The politics of concordance now means students who cannot qualify for a standard diploma will, in all probability, not qualify for its substandard substitute. Therefore, we have gone full circle, and the question is whether or not failing students will once again receive certificates of attendance.

Please read the linked article for a more extensive discussion. Parents and students must inform themselves and assume responsibility for their education.

5 Replies to “Death by concordance: A mandatory read for parents and students”

  1. Marilyn Bell says:

    All regular education students should receive a standard diploma. The problem in my opinion is that the district does not teach for educational value but for testing value. Students should be taught the basics skills that are needed to be successful academically. The practice of teaching to the test is not a successful process.

  2. Maya Thomas says:

    I think that parents need to be aware of this type of diploma when their students enter the educational system at the beginning of high school. The two types of diplomas I really don’t agree with. I also think that if students are being tested throughout out the year why is it that they need to be tested again for a regular high school diploma. Does not make sense to me. This is another way to under mind who has successfully completed all of their credits necessary to receive a high school diploma. That is one test they need to alleviate.

  3. GC says:

    Interesting that the writer of this article used “constellation “ instead of consolation.
    Good luck solving the illiteracy problem.

  4. Sandra Johnson says:

    Lakewood High School has refused to release these students’ diplomas. The valedictorian and salutatorians who spoke have been required to come into the school, and the school wants an apology before they will release their diplomas. The truth hurts; another poor decision by the LHS administration. Are graduates not allowed Freedom of Speech?

  5. K says:

    In at least one instance, no apology was made for speaking facts and uttering simple truths; the diploma was released and its release was accompanied by an apology for any confusion that a fragile ego was believed to have superseded the laws of the State.

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