Legislature passes bill watering down high school exit exam

Victor Joecks

It’s always amazed me that Nevada’s high school exit exam is given to students during their sophomore year.

If students are expected to pass the high school exit exam after being in high school less than two years, three things come to mind.

One, the test isn’t that difficult.

Two, what are students learning for the next two years, if they’ve passed a high school proficiency exam?

Three, if you can’t pass an exam given to sophomores, you shouldn’t be getting a high school diploma, which implies four, not two, years of learning.

Given these circumstances, it’s unbelievable that some in the Legislature want to dumb down the graduation requirements.

Nevada law currently requires seniors to pass four high-stakes exams to earn a diploma: math, science, reading and writing. …

Assembly Bill 456, approved Wednesday by the state Senate, would allow certain high school students to receive diplomas even if they fail a portion of the high school proficiency exam.

“This is not about watering down the test,” said state Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

It’s about helping the borderline cases, the students who are just missing the mark on the tests and who would otherwise graduate, Denis explained.

Sen. Denis’ claim notwithstanding, this is all about watering down the test.

If you can’t pass a sophomore-level test in the basic areas of math, science, reading and writing, you have no business graduating from high school, even if your combined average would be a passing grade.

What’s tragic here is that the ones who are really hurt by this are Nevada’s students. By not being honest with students, you allow them to leave high school thinking they have skills and abilities they don’t have. It might stress a student out to have to study, practice and drill to retake a test, but the alternative is a student with significantly fewer skills than are necessary to get a job or succeed in college.

With over 34 percent of Nevada’s high school graduates having to take remedial courses in college, Nevada should be raising, not lowering, its academic standards.