Research shows graduation tests are not helpful

Washburn High School
Washburn High is in the Tangletown neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis Public Schools

Research by a University of Minnesota sociologist suggests that graduation exams may not be doing high school seniors any good.

A study by the university's Rob Warren and University of California researcher Eric Grodsky said they could not find any benefit to making kids pass a test to get a high school diploma.

Warren said the tests in Minnesota and 22 other states do not show a measurable difference in learning, and do not pay off in the job market.

"It seems like there's two options to us. One option is to get rid of them. The other is to think about how to make them more effective," said Warren. "It seems that exit exams could increase academic achievement if they were more difficult. But if we're going to go that way, we have to realize that with higher standards are going to come lower graduation rates."

Warren's research is to be published in upcoming issues of the Educational Policy and Sociology of Education journals.

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