High School Exit Exam: The Controversy

Essay by yigsCollege, UndergraduateA, April 2006

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

United States high school students are graduating today without basic skills in math, reading, and writing. Employers generally assume high school graduates are fully capable of understanding, writing, and conversing in English, and able to handle simple math such as measuring or making change. However, employers are finding that they must educate these graduates in the basics to turn them into productive employees. Employers can no longer conclude that a high school diploma implies an educated person. Colleges are also finding the need to provide for remedial English and math courses for freshman. The colleges' complaint: high school graduates can't perform at the high school graduate level. Colleges must slow down their teaching schedule to accommodate the slower learners. It has long been accepted that most colleges require nationally standardized tests such as the SAT and the ACT for all applicants. The grades are used to determine the level of proficiency of the incoming freshman class.

High school teachers are sometimes forced by administrators or by social pressure to pass students that deserve failing grades. Each high school and teacher is too independent in determining who passes and who fails, thus creating a wide variety of standards in each school and classroom throughout the country. A nationwide high school exit exam would solve these issues by requiring students to prove proficiency in various subjects in an exam with objective criteria.

Many objections to a national high school graduation exam have arisen. It may test material that was not taught in some public schools. While this is a fair argument, the solution is to improve the curriculum to include the subjects being tested. The teachers should be held accountable for their students' performance. The high school exit exam will test students at the tenth grade high school level (Making a Diploma...