Gist drops three-tier diploma plan

Rhode Island should stick with a single diploma, says Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist, who’d proposed creating standard, “regents” and honors diplomas. Instead, she said districts should be able to add “endorsements” to the diploma to indicate higher levels of proficiency and honors.

In addition, Gist proposes delaying more rigorous high school graduation requirements for two years, till 2014, to give schools and students more time to prepare.

The tougher standards aren’t all that tough: Juniors who score at the lowest level on state math and English tests –“substantially below proficient” — will have to retake the tests senior year and show improvement. They will not have to show proficiency.

Currently, students who score poorly on the 11th-grade state exam can show samples of their work or use other test scores to qualify for graduation.  Up to half the class has been using that option:  45 percent of Rhode Island’s 11th-graders score “substantially below proficient” in math; 9 percent score at the lowest level in English.

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