Three strikes and you're in

Policymakers, what do you do when your state's newly adopted high school exit exams might result in a precipitous drop in graduation rates? Give failure a pass. Yes, that's right; if you're a Minnesota high school student, you have two options when it comes to the allegedly "extraordinarily challenging" eleventh grade math exit exam: pass once or fail three times. Either will get you a diploma. This seemingly nonsensical policy is apparently the result of dismal marks on the math graduation test for the class of 2010, which was piloting the new slate of graduation tests. The Minnesota legislature is now worried that such abysmal scores will yield a flood of dropouts. But don't worry, soothe the pols of St. Paul, these three-strike-and-you-get-to-first-base success stories still have to pass the rest of the graduation requirements in order to score a diploma. (Like completing ridiculously easy high school courses?) We're not placated. Perhaps the math test is indeed too hard (one independent analyst estimates that a student who barely passes it would score in the 75th percentile on the ACT; we're seriously skeptical) but now its results are also meaningless, along with a Minnesota high school diploma.

"Minnesota's must-pass math test goes by wayside," by Emily Johns, The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, May 30, 2009

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