DSM: Diplomas?? Graduation??

Andrew Smallman (andy@pscs.org)
Wed, 27 May 1998 16:50:25 -0700 (PDT)

Hey Everyone,

Out here in the land of the Puget Sound (now's there's a strange turn of a
phrase -- land of water?) at Puget Sound Community School we are in the
midst of a fine debate on whether we should offer a diploma and whether
students should "graduate" from our school.

(If you don't know, we are loosely based on SVS -- philosophically
similar, various differences in practice).

Anyway, I have a couple of questions:

First, if those of you at SVS could go back and do it again, would you
still offer the opportunity for students to be granted a diploma? It
seems to me that any diploma-seeking process is philosophically in
conflict with the model, short of handing out diplomas to anyone who feels
he/she deserves one (which, I think, would render the diploma
meaningless). Or does the societal value of the diploma and the fact the
SVS exists in this society all but demand the school offer a process for
getting one?

Do you see a difference between "graduation" and the granting of a

Similarly, are those who are awarded a diploma seen as SVS graduates while
those who don't seek one (or are denied) seen as something else
(non-graduate alums?)?

How important (to the students, their parents, the staff, the outside
community) has it seemed in 30 years that SVS offer a diploma?

PSCS is not an accredited school so therefore, unlike SVS, any diploma we
might grant would not be recognized outside of the value we, at PSCS,
place on it. Students wanting a high school equivalency take the GED.
So, given the fact that our diploma does not hold water outside of PSCS,
what advice would those of you at SVS (and SVS sister schools) give us?

I had the pleasure of reviewing the recent SVS newsletter detailing the
continuing dialogue about the diploma-granting process at SVS. What a
wonderful testament to the school! Out of curiosity, what is the current
SVS diploma-granting process? Is this the same at all SVS-model schools?

Thanks, in advance, for your feedback.

Kindest regards,


Andrew Smallman, Director
Puget Sound Community School - http://www.pscs.org
andy@pscs.org - http://www.pscs.org/~andy/