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Improving graduation rates in Clark County School District aren’t what they seem

After many weeks of reading about the abysmal test scores posted by our third- through eighth-graders, the news of graduation rates soaring must seem skewed to the eyes of the public (“Graduation rates climbing higher,” Tuesday Review-Journal).

For the past three years, high school proficiency exams have not been in use to determine graduation eligibility. High school students have been required to take the ACT (not necessarily to do well, just to take the test). But those scores have proven to be low across our valley.

Since Clark County School District Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky started, he has pushed schools to implement the “Minimum F” policy. This means that for students who choose to do zero work or do not prepare for tests, most teachers across the valley are forced to gift these students with a 50 percent minimum. So if students do a few assignments and can manage to pass a test or two, they will gain credit in a class where they have most likely not mastered or learned much of the material. But they are still passed along to the next one.

Quite frankly, a student really has to be lazy not to pass classes and gain credits.

With all of this in play, it is no wonder that the graduation rates have soared over the past few years. Beginning this school year, seniors will have to take the ACT as well as the four end-of-the-course exams in math and English. The students will not need to pass them, simply to take them. So for Mr. Skorkowsky’s last year in the district, the rates will continue to look like they are flying high. It is not until after he leaves, for the Class of 2019, that students will be required to pass the end-of-the-course exams.

I also find it fascinating that the “Read By 3” requirements are also being held until after he has vacated his post.

I have been in the district for nearly 20 years. I currently work with a fifth-grade class of gifted students. I feel fortunate for the opportunity, but I truly feel that many of the policies put into place have done nothing to ensure that we are holding students accountable for their own successes.

It is time for students, both high and low, to have to put forth tremendous effort to grow and succeed. Otherwise, we will be sending out additional groups of young adults into the world with the mentality that things should be given to them without putting in the appropriate effort.

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