From New Bedford, Massachusetts to Oakland, California, low-performing school districts are threatening to defy the state by granting diplomas to students who’ve failed state-mandated graduation exams. School officials say it’s not fair to deny diplomas to students who’ve done what was asked of them, even if they lack basic skills.
Rebels want alternatives to the state exam, so that kids who’ve worked hard can move on with a diploma. But most frequent flunkers haven’t worked hard. From the Christian Science Monitor:
Washington state has developed a multitiered approach for alternatives. Students there can substitute their GPAs, portfolios, or SAT, ACT, or PSAT scores. CEP president Jennings says it could become a model.
Some 40 percent of Washington 10th- graders might have failed this year’s test, but only a fraction of students can use those waivers, says Charles Hasse, head of the Washington Education Association. “They are not really, in a meaningful way, providing alternatives,” he says.
Translation: The vast majority of these students who can’t pass the state exam after multiple tries have lousy grades and score poorly on all tests. Even the portfolio option, the most flexible option, requires them to have completed assignments.
Update: California’s state superintendent told Oakland to deny diplomas to students who haven’t passed the exam. The district was taken over by the state when it went bankrupt. New test results show more than 90 percent of California seniors have passed the graduation exam. In one district, two-thirds of seniors who haven’t passed the exam also lack the credits required for graduation. I suspect that’s typical.