What Does A High School Diploma Prove?

Jacqueline Rabe Thomas:

The question was straightforward: Is it possible for a student to make it all the way through his or her senior year, be given a high school diploma – and be illiterate?

Fran Rabinowitz testifies

Fran Rabinowitz, the leader of Connecticut’s largest school district, took a deep breath and then responded to the Superior Court judge’s question.

“Yes,” testified Rabinowitz, the superintendent of public schools in Bridgeport, which awards diplomas to about 1,000 students each year. “I would hope it doesn’t happen, but I can’t say with complete certainty that it hasn’t happened or doesn’t happen.”

Graduation rates in struggling school districts have been rising for years.

But among the 72 percent of Connecticut students in the Class of 2010 who went on to college, at least 22 percent had to take non-credit courses to learn reading, writing or math skills they should have acquired in high school. Among the 58 percent of Bridgeport’s Class of 2010 who went to college, at least half had to take a remedial course. It’s unclear whether things have improved along with the graduation rates since then, because the state has not made public updated data.