I was recently "educated" about the now mandatory exit exam for high school students and have decided that if our politicians decided the old system was broken and they "fixed" it with No Child Left Behind legislation, they didn't. Children ARE getting left behind even more.
Theoretically, students with leaning disabilities are placed in the Special Education Program and an Individual Education Plan is developed with them, which is supposed to address their particular disability. They are supposed to receive additional help to ensure their ability to pass the exam. In practice, students sometimes fail to get the help they need, which is sad, but not necessarily a new problem for students and staff alike. If the student cannot pass the exit exam, they are denied a high school diploma and instead are offered a certificate of completion.
In the particular case I'm familiar with, a student passed all but one element of the exit exam, but was denied a diploma since he didn't pass all of them. Since he was denied a diploma, most of the normal avenues for education assistance, including financial aid, are denied.
Regardless of SAT scores, demonstrated commitment to further education and ability in all but one area of the exit exam, continuing with advanced education has become very difficult. While it is possible that students who don't pass the exit exam by the June graduation date can return in October and retake it, our student was advised that he only had a 20 percent chance of passing that segment no matter how many times he retakes it. There is very little incentive for him to make the effort in October.
Not all states adopted the requirement for an exit exam, many rejected it outright as unworkable. Of those that did adopt it as a requirement for a diploma, several have since abandoned it.
We need to let our legislators hear exactly how poorly the exit exam is meeting the education needs of our students and ask them to abandon a program that clearly doesn't work. If anyone would like to contact me about this topic, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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