Earlier today the Kentucky Board of Education voted to approve a revised regulation that for the first time implements some badly needed quality control over the Kentucky high school diploma. While the new criteria are rather modest, they at least start a process to reverse a situation we have been writing about since 2015 and even earlier: the excessive award of rather hollow diplomas to students who clearly don’t meet currently listed graduation requirements.
While I share concerns that the initial bar in the new graduation requirements might be set too low, it is clearly past time to institute some quality control over the Kentucky high school diploma. Since we really can’t know the impact until new tests are online, the graduation cut scores are set, and the first group of students goes through the process, exercising caution at startup of these new graduation quality measures isn’t a bad idea.
I do like the opportunity for second chances if a student cannot pass the reading and math exams, even after multiple attempts. The ability to assemble a portfolio to demonstrate adequate skills requires extra student motivation that could prove an advantage in the real world of work. Provided superintendents don’t wind up rubber stamping low-quality products, this provision could work well.
The other alternative, getting a diploma by showing Proficient or above scores on 8th Grade KPREP seems at first to offer potential for considerable watering down of diploma quality, but that might not actually prove to be the case. In 2018 Middle School math proficiency was only 47 percent, which is much lower than the current graduation rate. Most likely, a student who gets a Proficient score in the eighth grade will have little difficulty with the 10th grade assessments. I suspect few are likely to need or benefit from this alternative.
By the way, if you want a nice, concise review of what is in the new requirements, Bluegrass Scholar and Kentucky Board of Education member Gary Houchens has that over at his personal blog site. It’s worth a read.
Regulation 704 KAR 3:305, Minimum high school graduation requirements, now goes into a 30-day public comment period. You can provide your comments to:
Deanna Durrett, General Counsel
300 Sower Blvd, 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601