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10/03/2018

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Richard G. Innes

While I share concerns that the initial bar might be set somewhat too low, it is clearly past time to improve the quality control of 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 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 on KPREP 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 and few are likely to need or benefit from this alternative, making the real impact rather small.

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