For Californians, High School Diploma ‘Participation Trophy’

For Californians, High School Diploma ‘Participation Trophy’

Recently, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law a measure that would allow thousands of Californians to retroactively receive their diplomas.

Citing that the California High School Exit Exam (CASHEE) all students in the state are required to take is not in accordance with Common Core standards, the test was taken off of the table until 2018 and then retroactively applied as far back as 2004. Now, why should this matter to rest of us who already have diplomas? Because California is now effectively saying that high achievers aren’t just winners anymore, high school slackers and dropouts are winners too.

The diploma that was received by high achieving students or even the C-average student has now been watered down to include the student that never studied or didn’t even bother to show up because he was too busy getting high in his best friends car. For the valedictorian who received scholarships based on those grades, who was selected to attend Harvard University based on grades that out-perform any exit exam, that piece of paper is now a worthless configuration of processed tree pulp.

But it doesn’t just end at giving out veritable participation awards. The decision to remove the exit exam as a prerequisite for graduation is an affirmative action measure in disguise. It was passed back in 2004 as a way to counter a common problem in high schools in which students pass classes while learning nothing. Now, it’s estimated that over 200,000 people from 2006 to 2014 could be receiving their ‘participation awards’. It’s now set the bar incredibly low, and put a very low value on education.

Of course those in Telesis Radford’s position are thrilled. A would-be graduate of 2006, Telesis had completed all of her required coursework and passed the english portion of the exit exam, but she’d failed to pass the math portion- three times. “I’m so excited I get to start my future.” says Radford, saying that now she can finally pursue her career in nursing.

In a normal world, individuals like Telesis Radford wouldn’t be able to graduate and go on to be registered nurses if they couldn’t complete eighth grade math. If you can’t perform basic math skills upon exiting thirteen years of school, I’m not sure if I want you evaluating my medical chart or administering medicine. Once, twice, three times a failure an RN doesn’t make, Telesis. This should be textbook stuff here, no pun intended. If you can’t pass an exam based on old material, what are we to conclude about your current grades?

In the end, the message is loud and clear: regurgitate everything we’re taught without actually understanding or applying it. Because we’re all winners.



photo credit: Dan Holm

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