High school diplomas go retro

In perhaps the worst decision since the resurrection of the legwarmer, the North Carolina General Assembly has effectively granted retroactive diplomas to scores of high school seniors who failed graduation tests. Apparently to cut costs (though how, exactly, is not self-evident), the Tarheel legislature has eliminated the requirement that students pass state graduation tests in math, English, and computer skills. But in an odd, and seemingly unnecessary twist, they’ve made the measure retroactive to 1981. Paging Jim Hunt (who authorized the state board of education to institute the graduation test requirement): One of your reforms has just been sent the way of the side ponytail. It’s not clear how many students will take advantage of the new rules, since only those who completed all other graduation requirements save passing the tests are eligible, but the measure is certainly not going to be much of a money-saver. Districts will now have to spend time and dollars to determine who is eligible for a diploma; this will be particularly difficult for non-graduates from more than five years ago, as the state’s present data system was not in place then. Don Martin, Superintendent of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board called the move just another “unfunded mandate” and “tedious.” But we’re left wondering about the greater repercussions on North Carolina’s work force. Will students retroactively be able to get into UNC? Retroactively earn their lost income? Retroactively attend senior prom? The potential chaos is endless.

"Eligible for a diploma?: Schools tackle retroactive change in requirements," by Kim Underwood, Winston-Salem Journal, October 29, 2009

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