With the passing of the No Child Left Behind Act by George W. Bush in 2002, schools were faced with the challenge of testing students to show their academic progress. With this act, schools are required to lower drop-out rates, especially among students with disabilities, while still maintaining the high school diploma as a mark of high academic achievement.

In trying to set graduation requirements to meet these higher standards, many states have implemented a high-stakes test – that is, a test students must take in order to graduate. This has spurred a debate about how students with disabilities will fare in this type of examination, and whether they should be given the same examination and grading system as other students.

Proponents of distributing the same test to both general education and special education students say that it will create higher academic expectations, decrease the gap between the two groups, and set minimum standards for all students. Opponents believe that this will actually cause many unintended consequences including lowering self-esteem and raising drop-out rates for special education students, creating conflicts and potential lawsuits from parents, and obligating schools to create alternative diplomas and pathways for students who can’t pass the test.

So what do you think? Should students be required to pass an exit exam in order to graduate high school? And should this exam or its grading system be altered for students with disabilities?

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