Lowering the bar
Don’t relax, refine or delay graduation standards, writes Rick Hess on Education Gadfly.
Everywhere, media outlets are highlighting heart-wrenching tales of “B” students who can’t pass the math graduation exam, with suggestions that the exam systems are themselves flawed.
In fact, these exit exams are pitched at a rather modest level and offer students multiple chances to pass, which leads to an entirely different explanation: perhaps a nontrivial number of students actually lack mastery of essential knowledge and skills. If “B” students are failing, either their school grades are too high or they have not learned basic content. Either way, merely packing them off into the adult world of college or work does them no favors and ensures that our schools will continue to shortchange a new generation of students.
The easiest way to close the gap between high academic expectations and modest resources is to lower expectations, writes Peter Schrag in the Sacramento Bee. Instead, he advocates dual diplomas: The academic diploma would be awarded to “students who can pass challenging tests” while seat-warmers would get the self-esteem diploma.
Of course, colleges and employers would know the difference.