High school graduation examination in the United States

High school graduation examination in the United States

According to a 2006 study by the Center on Education Policy, two-thirds of the 15 million public high school students in the United States of America were required to pass a high school graduation examination to get a diploma of completion of studies. These are usually criterion-referenced tests which were implemented as part of a comprehensive standards-based education reform program which sets into place new standards intended to increase the learning of all students.

When a criterion-referenced test is tied to serious negative consequences for failure, such as denying a diploma, it is called a high-stakes test. Many organizations such as the NCTM have taken positions against high stakes tests, with the NCTM stating "placing too much emphasis on a single test or on testing can undermine the quality of education and jeopardize equality of opportunity." [ [http://www.nctm.org/about/position_statements/highstakes.htm] High-Stakes Tests, A Position of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics ]


No new states adopted a new graduation examination requirement in 2006. Utah abandoned plans to withhold diplomas from students who failed to demonstrate mastery of standards. Twenty-two states currently require a test to graduate, 3 others are to phase them in by 2012. Jack Jennings of the CEP believes that there is a "kickback" against imposing this requirement.

Graduation examinations first appeared in the U.S. after the Civil War, when the Regents Board of the State of New York imposed its first exams.

A century later in the form of the Certificate of Initial Mastery proposed by the NCEE, led by Marc Tucker, in the late 1990s which was the basis for education reform legislation in many states such as Washington State, Texas and Massachusetts in the early 1990s. The paper "America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages" [ [http://www.league.org/publication/abstracts/leadership/labs1190.html] Abstract] outlined a model that a new educational performance standard should be set for all students, to be met by age sixteen. This standard should be established nationally and benchmarked to the highest in the world. Students passing a series of performance- based assessments that incorporate the standard would be awarded a Certificate of Initial Mastery. This certificate would qualify the student to choose among going to work, entering a college preparatory program, or studying for a Technical and Professional Certificate, which would be explicitly tied to advanced job requirements. These standards would not be intended as sorting mechanisms, but would allow multiple opportunities for success; the goal would simply be to ensure achievement of high performance standards for the great majority of the nation's workforce. The states would ensure that virtually all students achieve the Certificate of Initial Mastery. Most of the current high school examinations are also given in the 10th grade even though US students are not considered to have completed high school until grade 12. Idaho is phasing in their requirement with a grade 8 level of achievement.

In Germany, students who are on a vocational track essentially end their formal education at grade 10, followed by a period of apprenticeship-based job training with an employer with limited formal education. In the United States comprehensive high school model, all students are expected to complete 12 years of public education, with some students taking primarily vocational based courses, while college-bound students taking primarily academic courses, though education reform seeks to graduate all students with some work experience, and enough academic skills to succeed in college.


Students who are unable to pass the exit examinations given by their local public school may be able to graduate from a private school or a school in another state by transferring their accumulated credits at the end of the last year of school. [http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/advo.diploma.nars.htm] This is typically not free, but is not considered very expensive relative to the cost of hiring an attorney to contest the statewide exams, or to the cost of hiring a private tutor.

ee also

* List of standardized tests in the United States


* A 'kickback' against graduation exams. USA Today August 17, 2006 6D.

External links

* [http://www.cep-dc.org/pubs/hseeAugust2006/HSEE2006FINAL.pdf] State High School Exit Exams: A Challenging Year. CEP study in .pdf format

* [http://www.hsee.umn.edu/] State High School Exit Examinations for Graduating Classes Since 1977. An online data repository.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Decreasing graduation completion rates in the United States — The Graduation completion rate is the measure reflecting the amount of students who complete their graduation and receive a degree from an educational institution. The drop out rate is the measure reflecting the amount of students who disengage… …   Wikipedia

  • Male–female income disparity in the United States — Main article: Gender pay gap Median weekly earnings of full time wage and salary workers, by sex, race, and ethnicity, 2009.[1] Male–female income diference, also referred to as the gender gap in earnings in t …   Wikipedia

  • Education in the United States — of America U.S. Department of Education Secretary Deputy Secretary Arne Duncan Anthony Miller …   Wikipedia

  • Achievement gap in the United States — An achievement gap refers to the observed disparity on a number of educational measures between the performance of groups of students, especially groups defined by gender, race/ethnicity, ability, and socioeconomic status. The achievement gap can …   Wikipedia

  • List of state achievement tests in the United States — State achievement tests in the United States are standardized tests required in American public schools in order for the schools to receive federal funding. According to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, in US Public Law 107 110 …   Wikipedia

  • Women in the United States judiciary — The number of women in the United States judiciary has increased as more women have entered law school. Breaking into the field of law The entry of women into the legal profession was continuously thwarted by the general impression that women… …   Wikipedia

  • Legal education in the United States — generally refers to the education of lawyers before entry into practice. Other types of legal education, such as that of paralegals, of Limited Practice Officers (in Washington), and of the citizenry in general, and of the education of lawyers… …   Wikipedia

  • Puerto Ricans in the United States — Ethnic group group= Puerto Rican American Puertorriqueño Americano caption = Notable Puerto Rican Americans: Joseph M. Acaba·Ana Ortiz·Val Ramos Alexis Cruz·Jennifer Lopez·Rita Moreno poptime= Puerto Rican 4,120,205 Americans [ [http://factfinder …   Wikipedia

  • Nursing in the United States — Contents 1 Education 2 Legal regulation 3 Types of nurses 4 …   Wikipedia

  • Community colleges in the United States — In the United States, community colleges are primarily two year public institutions of higher education and were once commonly called junior colleges. After graduating from a community college, some students transfer to a university or liberal… …   Wikipedia