Oregon Students May Choose Their Graduation Exam

Julia Silverman:

The plan makes Oregon one of several states moving past the “one-size-fits-all” high-stakes testing that became commonplace in many U.S. high schools in the 1990s. In Pennsylvania, the Board of Education is considering a three-pronged approach similar to Oregon’s plan, while in Maryland, students who can’t pass the state tests could be allowed to do a senior project instead.
But some say such choices allow some students _ and states _ to take the easy way out.
Daria Hall, assistant director for K-12 policy at Education Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for poor and minority children, points to New Jersey, where up to 80 percent of students at high schools in poor cities like Newark and Camden receive alternative diplomas after not passing the state tests. The number falls to about 3 percent in wealthy areas like Princeton, N.J., she said.