This report shows how the design of high school graduation policies can have important consequences for teaching, learning, and student attainment. It contrasts the results of single-test approaches to graduation with those of states using a broader range of measures to award a high school diploma.
The report profiles the assessment systems of 27 states, describing policy strategies that have been developed to enhance rigor in the high school program while providing diverse means for students to demonstrate their learning. These assessment systems seek to evaluate the full range of state learning standards, including higher-order thinking and performance skills, and they provide teachers with useful and timely information about student learning, which is essential to classroom teaching and school improvement.
In general, multiple measures approaches to high school graduation have helped to raise achievement without increasing dropout rates, thus improving education for more students and addressing one of the concerns about test-only approaches to determine eligibility for graduation.
A new book, Global Education Reform: How Privatization and Public Investment Influence Education Outcomes, provides a powerful analysis of these different ends of an ideological spectrum – from market-based experiments to strong state investments in public education.