To the delight of some and the dismay of others, high school exit examinations are disappearing in places all throughout the country.
This week, a New York advisory council suggested that the state’s century-old Regents examinations be made optional rather than mandatory for graduation. The significant shift for residents of New York coincides with an even fewer number of states in recent years and months that still demand exit examinations.
Oregon state officials said in October that the halt would last until 2028. This year, lawmakers in Florida and New Jersey have passed or are debating legislation to eliminate or scale up the testing in their states. A proposal to eliminate exit examinations in Massachusetts will also be presented to voters in November of next year.
This pattern completes a trend that has been going on for years and has only become worse since the epidemic made many schools rethink how they felt about high-stakes testing. It symbolises yet another contentious fallout from the epidemic on the lives of American schoolchildren, particularly with regard to standardised tests, which have long been criticised for favouring more affluent, white households disproportionately.
However, new concerns over the most equitable way to assess student accomplishment are surfacing at a time when parents and students alike are reporting feeling more and more unprepared for college. Unprepared for a traditional undergraduate education, students may find themselves having to retake classes, which raises their tuition costs and lengthens their time in school. This might potentially increase their likelihood of dropping out before graduating.
Entrance exam proponents worry that students’ disenchantment with testing is setting them up for failure. Opponents argue that eliminating them, or at the very least making them less necessary for obtaining a high school diploma, would ultimately be a more egalitarian solution.
Bobson Wong, a New York City maths teacher who was a member of the group that made the recommendations for the adjustments this week, said, “They work for some kids.” “They don’t work for many children.”