Pennsylvania became the latest state to require high school students to pass exit exams in order to graduate in an effort to ensure that students will be better prepared for college and the workplace.

At least that is the goal of educators in Pennsylvania but they are likely to find as have the other 26 states that also require some sort of exit exam that a large number of students would fail the tests and they too will have to lower the standards in order for students to graduate.

The students that are most affected by the exams tend to be minorities who are either in poor performing schools or those that are poor students themselves and have barely been getting by to begin with.

Yet rather than try and improve the quality of teaching (i.e. firing underperforming teachers) or hold back poor students until they can achieve basic proficiency in core subjects administrators have chosen to water down the tests so that graduation rates don’t plummet and tarnish their reputation.

Granted that other political forces are also at play here.  Minority advocates along with those of students with disabilities complain that the tests are unfair and have threatened to sue adding further pressure to educators efforts to make needed changes.

This is the same argument these people made about college entrance exams.  Guess what?  If you can’t pass a high school exit exam then you aren’t likely to do well on the SAT or ACT either.  This is nothing more than the remnants of outcome based education which was widely endorsed by the NEA that treated all students as if they had equal abilities and therefore they should progess at the same rate.  That meant that the smarter students were forced to slow down until the slower students could catch up which would rarely happen.  Combine this with the need to be politically correct and you have  a recipe for disaster.

Also it’s not like the students don’t have several opportunities to pass the exit exams either.  During my daughter’s senior year of high school in Maryland I was struck by how many times the exit exam was given.  Despite the very basic nature of the exam my daughter knew of several students who took the exam three to four times before they passed.  Minorities represented a majority of the student body but that didn’t mean they were stupid or disadvantaged as many of the graduates that year were going to Ivy league schools or other elite institutions.

Maryland went one step further though by creating a Bridge Plan where students who were unable to pass the exam would be given an alternative project to complete.

Rather than prepare students for college or the workplace by dumbing down the tests and therefore the diploma educators only make students feel that the world will adjust to their abilities instead of challenging them to adjust to the world.