Walking with the graduates

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We have to side with the Carson City school board when it comes to who decides which students participate in graduation ceremonies.

Even if we believed students who haven't passed the required proficiency exam should participate, we'd still argue the decision rests with the local school board.

However, we do agree with the Carson board's current policy, which says high-school seniors must have completed all the requirements for graduation before they can join their classmates in the graduation ceremony.

As we said back in June when the issue was raised, graduation is not just an empty ceremony, it's about achievement. The people who have their names read out and cross the stage to shake the principal's hand have accomplished something in their lives and are ready to move on.

The question comes up again now because Nevada Board of Education members plan to discuss this Saturday whether to force all Nevada schools to allow students who didn't pass the exam to participate in the ceremony.

We understand the disappointment, made clear this spring when a Carson student had completed all other requirements but couldn't get past that final hurdle in time for the ceremony.

It's the state school board's responsibility to follow the standard set by the Legislature, which made the proficiency examination part of the criteria for a successful graduate. If members believe the standard should be lowered, their argument is with legislators.

The local school board's responsibility is to make sure its schools are providing the proper instruction to students to ensure they are able to pass the proficiency exam and graduate.

The ideal will be fair and challenging exams, and 100 percent graduation rates. Some work is still needed to fine-tune the exams and the instruction, and we don't know there will ever be a time when every student passes.

But the demand today is for excellence in the public schools, not for a feel-good system. That means keeping the bar raised high. And at Carson High School, that means telling students they may walk with a graduating class only after they pass the exams, not before.


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