With students struggling to pass exit exams, “many states softened standards, delayed the requirement or added alternative paths to a diploma,” reports the New York Times.
“The real pattern in states has been that the standards are lowered so much that the exams end up not benefiting students who pass them while still hurting the students who fail them,” said John Robert Warren, an expert on exit exams and a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
“The exams are just challenging enough to reduce the graduation rate,” Professor Warren added, “but not challenging enough to have measurable consequences for how much students learn or for how prepared they are for life after high school.”
Two-thirds of the nation’s students are supposed to pass an exit exam to earn a high school diploma. The exams appear to increase dropout rates by one or two percentage points.
Yet, “momentum is definitely still moving in favor of states’ adopting these exit exams,” said John F. Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy. As students adjust to exit exams, they work harder to meet the requirements, Jennings said.
I’d support a certificate of completion for students who complete high school without learning basic skills, whether the cause is disability, lack of English fluency or anything else. A diploma should reflect a minimum level of academic competence.