Oklahoma may cancel graduation requirements

Oklahoma may repeal its brand-new graduation requirements for fear of high failure rates, reports the Tulsa World.

The class of 2012 is the first group of students to face the state graduation requirements created by lawmakers in 2005 as part of Achieving Classroom Excellence legislation.

Each student is required to pass four of seven end-of-instruction exams to get a high school diploma. The exams are in Algebra I and II, English II and III, Biology I, geometry and U.S. history.

Rep. Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, predicts 80 percent of legislators will support repealing the higher standards.

Even Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, a co-author of the original bill, wants to rethink the legislation. Schools haven’t been able to give students enough remedial help, she said.

Several states are backing off on higher graduation requirements, notes the Hechinger Report. Georgia eased its requirements last year, cutting the number of exams from four to one.

Other states are raising standards to ensure a passing score signifies college readiness.

New York has vowed to make its high-school graduation exams tougher after a study last year showed that even students who pass the math test may be placed in remedial math classes in college. Florida recently raised its cut-off scores on all standardized exams, including those in high school, and is developing additional end-of-course assessments.

Statistics showing that large numbers of high-school graduates are unprepared for college coursework have fueled the push to make tests more difficult. Right now, many of those who do earn a diploma must enroll in at least one remedial course in college.

Nearly a quarter of high school graduates who seek to enter the military fail the entrance exam, which tests subjects such as word knowledge, paragraph comprehension, arithmetic reasoning and general science, Hechinger reports.

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  1. I have always thought of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB / “military entrance exam”) was something of an IQ test, and in that context it’s unlikely that you would either want to or easily diminish its failure rate.

  2. Thinly Veiled Anonymity says:

    Think about this:

    The requirement is 4 out of 7.

    And they’re thinking about repealing that because it’s too hard for the poor students.

    The requirement should be 7 out of 7 if you think that the tests are any good at all. (Which they may not be.)

    This isn’t about “treating people right”, it’s about running a fantasy school system. Classes are one thing — have them be all understanding and adaptive and differentiated and what not.

    But as a school, your diplomas are your currency. Devalue at your own risk.

  3. I’m not sure that every HS grad needs to pass algebra II and I don’t know what English III is like, but the rest seem highly reasonable for everyone. My kids took the MD tests in reading, writing, algebra I and I think citizenship or some such when they were 8th-graders (they were/are for HS grad, but were started in 8th grade (although only those taking algebra I – then only an honors course – took the algebra then). They were given every year thereafter, so there were multiple chances to pass. I think the geometry was added after we moved away. For kids in honors classes, getting a high pass as an eighth-grader was easy (and the only prep was pretty much limited to reminders to make sure the number of the bubble matched the number of the question), so the tests really weren’t that difficult. I seem to remember that one item on the writing exam was to write a set of directions from one designeated point on the provided street map to another, according to some criteria – most direct, or safest etc.

    • That should have been “designated” – my typing is rather rusty, these days and I don’t use spell-check.

  4. I’ve been hoping for increased requirements, even if it lowers rates. Perhaps the key is a two diploma structure. Allowing non-university bound students to graduate at sixteen and enter vocational or associate programs and reserving senior high for university qualified students would bring the US in line with the rest of the world – you know, all the countries we constantly lament who beat us on PISA tests.

    • Increasing the graduation rate is only good if the knowledge and skills increase with it, and I don’t see that happening; quite the contrary. Political correctness trumps standards every time, unfortunately. We should do better with non-college-prep options, which can and should require real knowlege and skills; just not the same ones as the college-prep option. I’d also like to see an honors-level diploma, a general one that would still indicate basic literacy, numeracy etc. and a certificate for those whose disabilities preclude actual HS knowledge and skills (ideally the last group would get suitable workplace training).

  5. Actually, if you ask what most employers are looking for in high school graduates, I’d be willing to bet you would see the following:

    1. proper spelling and writing skills
    2. knowing basic math and fractions
    3. being able to perform simple tasks without supervision
    4. able to work in a group or independently
    5. showing up to work on time and having a good work ethic.

    Many high school graduates might be able to pass exit exams, but when it comes down to actually knowing how to apply the knowledge they’ve learned, many of them can’t do it.

    The ASVAB has never been an IQ test, but in reality, the higher your score, the more career opportunities you’ll have in the military (if you’re scoring below 50, it’s a safe bet that today’s military won’t accept you), and as a side note, if you hold a GED, you need a minimum score of 65 in order to enlist these days.

    Also, I’d be willing to stack my ‘regular’ diploma (earned back in 1981) against most honors diplomas (in my day, everyone earned a regular diploma, unless you were an I.B. student), and the only awards were valedictorian (and below), along with recognition of the top 10% of the graduating class (and that was it).

  6. Current seniors have two chances remaining to pass four end-of-instruction exams so they can walk across the stage with their classmates for a handshake and diploma. there are also alternative tests and projects the seniors can use to meet the requirements.