What’s Wrong With Our Schools (Part 2): Senioritis

June 29, 2012

[Note:  My last blog talked about the agrarian school calendar.  I missed the news that the Los Angeles Unified School district is cutting days from the existing school year.  The Los Angeles Times wrote:


“A tentative agreement to shorten the school year for Los Angeles students — for the fourth consecutive year — is almost certain to weaken academic gains, and was driven, critics said, by expediency more than the best interests of students.


“The deal reached …calls for canceling up to five instructional days from the 2012-13 school year….  All sides agree that the pact is bad for students but some insist it was unavoidable.”]

This week, I attended an Education Week online chat “The Senior Slump: Strategies to Keep Students Motivated”.  They even posted my question “Isn’t the heart of the problem the factory (time-based) system? Isn’t the solution moving to a proficiency-based system (Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning)?”  I read a related article in Education Week “Eradication of Senior Slump Remains Elusive: Some places using innovative tactics”.

What is the problem?  What are we talking about?  We should define terms.  Senioritis, Senior Slump, Senior-Year Slacking all refer to the same thing.  Merriam-Webster online tells us it is “an ebbing of motivation and effort by school seniors as evidenced by tardiness, absences, and lower grades”.  Students, parents and educators all know the root cause.  

Senioritis Logic: Once seniors are accepted into college, there is no need to do anything more than pass with the bare minimum, assuming colleges won’t look at a student’s final transcript.  Better to spend time with friends you won’t be seeing for a while, and take the earned break.  


Researching any of the “senioritis” terms returns many articles on this “disease”.

Wikipedia says this “is a colloquial term used in the United States and Canada to describe the decreased motivation toward studies displayed by students who are nearing the end of their high school, college and graduate school careers. “I have a bad case of senioritis””.


Former US Secretary of Education Richard Riley wrote “Creative leadership is certainly a requirement in overcoming the institutional inertia that allows so many high school students to waste their senior year. Seniors who have completed their mandatory course load or have been accepted to college through early admissions often check out.”


Peterson’s (the college prep company) has an online page about College Prep and the Perils of Senior Slump

A high school senior wrote:

“With fewer than two weeks of school left for the class of 2011, Senior Marissa Daftary explains what it means to fall victim to the senior slump and the ways it affects students.


“There’s a sickness going around Wayland High School seniors, and it’s unlovingly entitled the “senior cough.”


“Symptoms include lack of completed homework, lack of studying for tests or quizzes, and most importantly, lack of motivation for anything at all related to school or learning in the second semester of senior year.


“What’s the official name for this illness?


“Why, it must be the senior slump! The senior slump is the #1 raging disease among teenagers ages 17-18 years old.

“The first sign of senior slump is feeling absolutely no obligation to do any school work.”

I have two things to say.  


One, I was the only person on the Ed Week chat who even suggested that the problem was caused by factory-model schooling, and the solution would be proficiency-based schools.  Top educators and experts were in attendance, but this solution wasn’t part of the discussion.  It seemed to me that they were just trying to keep them busy.  Hmm….  


Two, senioritis NEVER happens here at the Delphian School because we have a proficiency-based program.  Seniors who finish their high program always report that they’ve never worked harder in their lives up to the minute they finish the program!  They finish any time of year, and when they finish they are done!  Couldn’t be simpler!


Big problem.  Easy Solution.

What’s wrong with our schools?  Senioritis is just one of the flawed educational bricks in the out-moded factory model school.  Stay tuned to learn more about the bricks!

Posted by marks on Friday June 29, 2012 at 09:08AM

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