The Diploma Dilemma: A Policy Analysis from the Hoover Education Success Initiative


“The thesis of this paper is that there is a critical need to redesign or, at a minimum, realign states’ approaches to high school diplomas. Education leaders have to face the unpalatable reality that lowering high school requirements tacitly condones the lack of performance in elementary and middle schools. Worse, it forces students to bear the cost of system failure by shortchanging their life options. A new graduation policy is needed that requires coordination from the secondary school system through higher education and occupational training and into the labor force. The new approach needs to more accurately reflect the actual skills and knowledge that students acquire before and in high school, create coherent pathways that ensure both short-term and long-term opportunities for students, measure student outcomes with tools that are correctly matched to their purpose, and offer all stakeholders clear, reliable facts about the results that our K–12 system creates.”

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