Behind the Headline: Maryland Board Considers Two-Tier High School Diploma System

ednext_XV_1_forum_img01On Top of the News
Maryland Board Considers Two-Tier High School Diploma System
Baltimore Sun | 2/23/16

Behind the Headline
Different Kids Need Different Credentials
Education Next | Winter 2015

High school students in Maryland took the Common Core-aligned PARCC test last year for the first time. Because fewer students passed the test than passed the previous high school exam, the Maryland Board of Education is now considering whether to lower the score needed to pass the test or to issue two different diplomas, one for students who pass the PARCC exam and are ready for college and one for students who get a lower score on the test. So reports Liz Bowie in the Baltimore Sun this week.

Yesterday, the editorial board of the Baltimore Sun urged the state board of education “to be patient and not be panicked into rushing to lower standards because of one year’s disappointing test results.” Their editorial concludes, “Instead of considering how to lower the state’s academic standards the school board should be working out ways to help all students reach them.”

The suggestion that Maryland consider offering a two-tier diploma system was made by board member Chester E. Finn, Jr.  Finn earlier made the case for this type of policy in a forum published in the Winter 2015 issue of Education Next, “Rethinking the High School Diploma.” Finn argued that “Different Kids Need Different Credentials.” Richard Kahlenberg and Sandy Kress also contributed articles to the forum.

Earlier this week, Mike Petrilli argued on the EdNext blog that it does not make sense to use college readiness as the standard for high school graduation.

There’s always been a big gap between the skills needed to earn a high school diploma and those needed to succeed in college. Neither Common Core nor anything else on the K–12 reform agenda is going to change that basic calculus. Policy makers simply will not deny diplomas to the huge portion of eighteen-year-olds who have made it to the end of the twelfth grade without the reading and math skills necessary to succeed in credit-bearing college courses.

— Education Next

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