Too many kids are failing in California, and so is the education establishment

High school graduation rates have traditionally been a barometer of student success, as well as a measure of the quality of school systems. The members of California’s education establishment have been high-fiving each other over the state’s on-time high school graduation rate reaching 83.2 percent in 2016.

But a peak behind the curtain reveals some extremely unsettling information. Not only does the rate ignore the 3 percent of children who drop out before starting 9th grade, but the improvement in the graduation rate is fueled by the collapse of academic standards.

In October, 2017, we officially said good-by to the California High School Exit Examination, which the state legislature eliminated in 2015 because too many kids couldn’t pass it. The English–language component of the test addressed state content standards through tenth grade, and the math part of the exam covered state standards in only grades six and seven and Algebra I. Worse, the legislators chose to give diplomas retroactively, going back to 2006, when the test was first initiated, to students who had passed their coursework but failed the test.

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