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Diploma system released for public comment

January 7, 2011

The State Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education has approved a draft of new graduation requirements for the class of 2012, despite critics who call the rules unfair.

The proposal would require students to score partially proficient or better on state tests of Math and English. Students who score below the bar as juniors would have a chance to re-take the test, and they would be eligible for a diploma if they show “significant” improvement.

The new rules would also create a 3-tiered diploma system that includes an honors diploma for high achieving students and a certificate for students who do not qualify for a full diploma.

State officials say the proposal addresses concerns about the fairness of using test scores as a requirement for graduation while still rewarding students who work hard and do exceptionally well.

Critics say the system would be unfair to students of color and students in struggling schools, who score much lower on average than their peers. Many students say they are worried about not getting a high school diploma even though they have finished all the coursework and projects required by their teachers.

The board will take public comment on the proposal in a series of hearings scheduled later this month.

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