Last year, roughly 98 percent of Oklahoma's high school seniors passed at least four graduation tests. Only nine of 1,744 school sites got an F. Yet some lawmakers apparently think this is evidence the systems are too stringent. Rep. Dennis Casey, R-Morrison, is the football coach-turned-superintendent-turned-legislator who is House author of both bills.
The legislations' supporters will argue that schools spend too much time testing students, and that it stresses children. But how else can you accurately measure student progress? Furthermore, testing requirements have incentivized improvement. Although graduation exams became mandatory just last year, students have taken them for several years. In 2008, just 54 percent passed the Algebra II exam; 74 percent did last year. The pass rate for geometry surged from 68 percent to 82 percent; for English III it jumped from 75 percent to 85 percent.
Accountability improves performance. Lawmakers should embrace this fact instead of pretending that the ability to pass an English test makes a student a geometry whiz and the child's school a center of excellence.