Imagine if it were possible to raise high school graduation rates without spending more money. HB 3068 provides an example.
Beginning in the eleventh grade, the bill would allow a pupil that is at least sixteen years old to receive an early high school diploma for passing a high school equivalency exam such as the GED. It’s like testing out of college courses with CLEP exams. How many capable but bored students that have dropped out could have graduated if given this opportunity?
GED passage could also become a new honors program. There was a time when GEDs had a stigma attached to them because these exams were associated with dropping out of school, which has long been seen as a form of social failure. Yet you’d be surprised how challenging that exam might be for today’s high school students. If Oregon’s 2023 cohort of students were required to take the GED, how many do you think would pass? Living in the time of dumbed-down social promotion, the watering down of academic standards in the name of equity, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the GED could become a greater mark of distinction than a diploma from Portland Public Schools, offering both employers and admission committees a stronger signal of an applicant’s quality.
If a student has the knowledge of a high school education, why not let that young person move on, to the workforce or to higher education? Keeping such students locked in K-12 is a waste of both time and money. Let’s stop delaying adulthood. Allow kids that can advance out of high school early, on a voluntary basis, to do so.
Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.