Published 4:35 am Sunday, May 11, 2008
Morton should reconsider proposals
Tomorrow, the state Board of Education will meet to consider adopting significant changes to state graduation requirements. But before those reforms are passed, the state BOE should consider the affect those changes may have on our students and their ability to get good, high paying jobs.
State superintendent Joseph Morton is proud of the fact that 92 percent of Alabama seniors pass all five sections of the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, currently a prerequisite for receiving an Alabama High School diploma. However, for the other eight percent, Morton proposes a “credit-based” diploma, which students can receive after having passed only three sections of the exam, including math and reading.
Morton’s proposal fails to consider the substantial amount of students in that 92 percent category who pass the entire graduation exam only after taking it multiple times, studying extensively and enrolling in remediation classes. With the option of another diploma, those students will likely opt out of such strenuous activities after they successfully pass the three required portions of the exam. Therefore, a large percentage of Alabama high school students can be expected to graduate without a standard diploma not because passing the graduation exam is beyond their ability, but because the state is not holding them to high performance standards.
Additionally, Morton is proposing to strengthen the high school curriculum by putting all incoming freshmen on path to receive an advanced diploma. But in order to get all students qualified for the advanced diploma, Morton’s proposal would eliminate the honors level courses many students are now required to take in order to receive that diploma and instead require only that every student take algebra II and two years of a foreign language. Therefore, students who choose to challenge themselves in high level honors courses will not be rewarded for their work with a special diploma.
Schools in Alabama have come to far to let up now. The state BOE and superintendent Morton should focus on how to get every kid in honors courses and pass the entire graduation exam rather than changing the rules so more students can get through.