Graduate yourself

Number 2 Pencil points to an entrepreneurial twist: Students who can’t pass their state’s exit exam can get an official-looking diploma from a private school, North Atlantic Regional High in Maine. Haitian immigrants are using North Atlantic to get around the reading portion of the Florida graduation exam, reports the Miami Herald.

Two years after arriving from Port-au-Prince, Edison High student Stephania Fourron had learned enough English to pass the math portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, but failed the reading exam three times.

She could not receive a diploma, could not start college, could not study nursing — until a community activist offered her a novel solution from 1,600 miles away.

For a $255 fee, a private school designed for home-schooled students in Lewiston, Maine, offered to accept her course credits from Edison and issue a diploma — even though she has never attended classes there. Within weeks, Fourron was able to begin classes at Miami Dade College.

Of course, without basic reading skills, it’s unlikely Fourron will understand college nursing texts.

This is a great racket for North Atlantic, but eventually students will wise up. They can claim to be homeschooled and award themselves free diplomas. The piece of paper will be worth nothing without the skills it claims to represent; ultimately, that’s true of all diplomas.

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  1. anonymous says:

    If I earn 24 credits in a Florida high school and move to Maine where I enroll in a private school what’s the difference? When I meet the requirements I receive a diploma. Seniors graduating from private high schools aren’t required to even take the exit exam, let alone pass it.

  2. D. Cooper says:

    Anonymous…. if I’d have said that first, I’d have used anonymous too!!!

  3. Won’t make much difference if they receive a diploma. As the article points out, a person who can’t read standard english is going to find a career in the medical field in the United States almost impossible to achieve.

  4. It’s a shame that no one has flat out said that to the girl.

  5. She’ll make it, I’m sure she has plenty of intangible qualities that will make everything work out! Those mean nasty standardized tests may say that she can’t read English – and obviously, she can’t – but that doesn’t matter because she’s such a nice person and she really really really really really really really tried her best!!!!@! Who needs literacy when you have the drive to succeed?!

    [Sarcasm off.]

  6. I think the point is that the girl made it into college. I don’t know about you, but no one has ever asked to see my high school diploma. They care more about my degree from college.

    We can speculate about how well she’ll do in college but how do you know? Maybe she had trouble with the timed aspect of the FCAT. Many people who fail the FCAT have this issue. It doesn’t mean they can’t compete academically.

    Their website shows a list of colleges and universities to which their students have been accepted. Many of these are tough schools to get into, like the United States Air Force Academy, West Point Military Academy and Julliard

  7. If her English keeps improving she could still do well. She passed the math section she is not a total slackard who does not know anything. More power to her for recognizing the need for a college education and working to get it.

    By the way, if she had been in the country longer my opinion would be totally different. Where thate the case her lack of English skills would indicate a lack or effort and/or ability. As it is, who knows if she has been in English as a second language type programs that have sheltered her from having to learn English.

  8. Maybe Stephania Fourron understands better than most on this thread, never mind the rest of society, what the true purpose of a high school diploma is. That would be as a gateway document to help open a few doors.

    Just reading the article itself tells me that she understands what still needs to be done in order to succeed in the medical field.

    Maybe we ought to quit harping about the alleged “worthlessness” of a high school diploma and see it for what it truly is.

  9. Stephania Fourron could do just fine – she obviously has learned a lot of english if she can pass high school and the math portion of the test. And she is obviously motivated to succeed if she’s taken the test three times, graduated high school, and wants to go to college so badly that she enlisted the help of this school in Maine. She could fail, sure, but it’s clear she has a drive to succeed. The important thing is that she has the *opportunity* to do so now that she has a piece of paper.

    Miami-Dade has inspected this girl’s application and also utilizes entry-level placement testing. If they’ve determined she’s qualified for her program of study, she should have the opportunity to study there regardless of what the state government thinks.

  10. She didn’t get her diploma because she couldn’t pass a reading comprehension test–after having taken the test 3 times.

    Now she will have to read and comprehend texts that will allow her to dispense medical care. Do you want an illiterate nurse? Do you want to trust that she understands the directions that the doctor has written down?

    North Atlantic made it possible for her to get into a college without the actual qualifications needed. No one will ask to see her diploma–but she will need to read, and understand, at a college level. How will she do that when she couldn’t pass a test slanted to a 9th grade level?

  11. jeff wright says:

    Two things come immediately to mind:

    1. From what I’ve seen of too many graduates from traditional high schools, their diplomas might as well have been mail order.

    2. “Now she will have to read and comprehend texts that will allow her to dispense medical care. Do you want an illiterate nurse? Do you want to trust that she understands the directions that the doctor has written down?”

    Anyone who lives in the SF Bay Area and has had the need to seek medical care may have some issues regarding the above questions.