The actual high school diploma, then, will replace the meaningless certificate that, heretofore, had been used to label those who failed the test. Now the transcript will serve as the meaningful gate-keeping document to preserve high standards for the privileged and to sever opportunities for the poor, brown, and impaired.
Here is the twisted reasoning of the Utah education officials, intent upon placating critics, avoiding lawsuits, yet keeping the barriers in place:
. . . critics say the high-stakes tests place additional burdens on already-disadvantaged students by barring them from post-high school education and well-paying jobs. That is in part why the Utah Board of Education earlier this month lowered the stakes for passing the UBSCT. The board decided to give real diplomas - not just certificates of completion - to students who fail.What a sweetheart you are, Dr. Harrington--have you been tutored by Sec. Spellings in the new pragmatic and generous modes of discrimination?
All students who try the tests at least three times and pass required course work will receive diplomas this spring, but the diplomas must state whether students passed the UBSCT. Students who don't bother to take the tests could still be in line for certificates of completion.
Starting with the class of 2007, those who pass course work but fail the UBSCT will get diplomas only if they took advantage of remediation opportunities. The Utah Office of Education is asking the Legislature for money to support the remedial classes, which have no funding.
Legal advice to the State School Board suggested offering only certificates of completion to students who fail the UBSCT would preclude college entrance and eligibility for college loans and grants from the federal government. Allowing diplomas - even if they state the tests were not passed - is meant to mitigate that problem, said Patti Harrington, Utah state schools superintendent.
Although employers rarely ask to see diplomas, Harrington encourages them to start asking for high school transcripts, which must state UBSCT scores and high school grades, to get a complete picture of a job applicant's high school performance.