Legislature enacts graduation policy
June 7, 2003
About a dozen seniors from Carson and Pioneer high schools will march in today’s graduation not knowing if they are truly graduating.
A last-minute decision Friday afternoon by the Nevada Legislature lowered the passing score for the math portion of the proficiency exam, a test the Legislature mandated all students must pass in order to graduate.
The adjusted results won’t be available until Monday.
In the meantime, the bill also required all high schools to allow students who did not pass the math exam to participate in graduation ceremonies — a direct contradiction to Carson City’s standing policy.
“It’s hypocritical to say you must pass a high-stakes proficiency exam to get a diploma, but we’ll let you parade up there in a cap and gown even if you didn’t meet all the requirements,” said John McKenna, president of the Carson City School Board. “They just took the easy way out.”
District officials and school administrators have come under scrutiny in the past years for this policy, which bars students from walking in graduation who have not met all requirements for graduation including passing the proficiency exam.
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“We were trying to hold ourselves to the level of accountability that everybody says they want,” said Carson High School Principal Glen Adair. “The difference is, we were willing to do it.
“We also had one of the highest passage rates in the state.”
He said the policy was not aimed at punishing students who do not pass the exam, rather its aim was to encourage students to achieve.
“People live up to the level of their expectation,” he said. “If there’s a lower expectation, they’ll live to that as well.”
However, Adair said the legislation also had a benefit.
“I’m pleased that they’re finally going to take a realistic look at the test,” he said. “At lot of people, including myself, have repeatedly recommended that they review it. I appreciate the fact that they’re looking at it.”
The bill suspended the math requirement but leaves in place the reading and writing portions. The students who did not pass either of those portions will not be allowed to participate in today’s ceremony.
About 13 students from Carson and Pioneer high schools failed at least one portion of the exam but met all other requirements.
Pioneer, the alternative high school, held its graduation Tuesday. Those seniors who were not allowed to walk because of low math scores, will be invited to walk with Carson High School’s graduating seniors today.
McKenna said he accepts the Legislature’s decision but questions the relevance.
“Is this a good use of their special session? It’s like a kid who wants to do the easy homework without having to do anything hard.
“I really do hope we get a budget out of this.”