The Wall Street Journal ran a front page story on "senior projects" around the country and the push back from parents against them. I saw this on Tuesday, but, as usual, Joanne Jacobs beat me to it. We know that kids say we practically hand them a diploma. They think they could and should work more.
But turning up the heat for just one requirement in the senior year isn't the best response. We need, instead, to work on ways to help and to support teachers in many subjects in all grades to set standards that require significant but reasonable efforts from students on tasks that will help them gain the knowledge and skills they and their parents value, and from which they will get enough intrinsic satisfaction to be willing to undertake the next significant effort. (Thanks, Philip Schlechty.)
Teachers can't do this in isolation. They need time to work together, both to develop the work and to coordinate the workload. And, they need help in communicating and selling to parents (and to students) what they are expecting and why.
St. Paul, MN, has worked for a number of years now at a goal of reading 25 books per year. They're not as successful at the high school level as in lower grades, but they are getting kids to read. And, considering how very little most schools ask students to read, their accomplishments seem pretty strong.