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Exit exam is a drag on state’s graduation rate

It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, that Massachusetts’ graduation rate does not make the top 10 in the nation (“Mass. schools miss key top-10 list,” Metro, Nov. 27). An important reason is our high school graduation test. The National Academy of Sciences found that exit exams lower graduation rates. Yet they do not improve educational quality or student success in college or work.

Using exit exams to ensure that students possess adequate knowledge and skills does not work. Our New England neighbors and nine out of the 11 states with higher graduation rates do not require students to pass a graduation test.

Massachusetts policy makers often attribute our students' top scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress to our exit exam. But the truth is that our students were among the top performers on that measure before MCAS became a graduation requirement.

Completing high school leads to higher earnings, lower incarceration rates, and more stable families. To help students and our state gain these benefits, we should eliminate the MCAS graduation test.


Monty Neill
Executive director
Jamaica Plain