Thompson: The Benefits and Costs of Graduation Exams
After reading Sarah Butrymowicz's Hechinger Ed analysis of Oklahoma’s new graduation law, I remain agnostic on whether students should be required to pass four End of Instruction tests to earn a diploma. About 16% of the state’s seniors began the year needing to pass one or more of their exit examinations. A law has been filed to delay the graduation requirement because the lack of a degree, for instance, would exclude young people from joining the military. Butrymowicz notes, however, that nearly a quarter of applicants also fail their armed forces entry exam, thus implying the short term pain might be worthwhile if Oklahoma stays the course. The problem is that the law is holding the students of our poorest districts accountable in order to hold the adults in those systems accountable. When today’s seniors were freshman, in 2009, the Oklahoma City School System became accountable for 1,524 "Full Academic Year" 9thgraders. At the beginning of this year, their class was down to around 1,300 seniors. About 780, had passed all four tests. The district has made heroic efforts to offer remediation to about 40% of the seniors who need to retake their test(s). But no mention is made of the rest of their class who do not count against their schools because they were "highly mobile." We cannot create a greater good for more students until we remember that a total of 3,376 kids were OKCPS freshmen in 2009, meaning the best case scenario is that a third of them will graduate from that system.- J T (@drjohnthompson)Image via.