Andy’s Newspaper column archive

Did you really graduate High School ©

Yes, I may be the parade watcher, posing as the little boy who said, “The Emperor has no clothes”. Yep, he is nude and transparent as a pane of glass. Well, not quite, but if you take the time to look closely, the King wants us to ignore what is right before our eyes, something is not quite right in education.

My source for what I am going to tell you is one I trust implicitly and I have verified these facts for myself as well. First a true scenario.  Mary (fictitious name) decided to attend a for profit college, you know, one of those that can train you for a career as a dental or medical assistant, medical billing, auto mechanics etc. Her choice was dental assistant.

Mary went through the qualification process, including education background, qualifying for that all important student loan and approval to attend class. She presented her high school diploma and started classes within a few weeks. She was devoted to her studies and was among the top of her class. She had issues to overcome, a small baby, no spouse, living with parents, needing financing and she was 23 years old with no job. Yet, with help  she did make it in to the class for her education.

Several weeks later Mary was called to the admissions office. It seemed there was a small issue which needed some clarification. Her high school transcripts came back showing she did not have an actual diploma. Mary was stunned and so were her parents. She had pictures in cap and gown, she had received her certificate as she walked across the stage at her school graduation. So what was going on?

Upon close examination, Mary’s certificate was exactly that, a “Certificate of Attendance” Sure, she was spared the embarrassment of not graduating with her class but Mary was totally unaware that she did not hold a diploma. The staff at the current school missed the small print on the certificate. Mary graduated but received no diploma. She was removed from the class, many tears were shed and she could not come back until she could produce a GED or valid Diploma.

It seems like this is all wrong. How could this be. It happened in California, a very liberal and forgiving, look the other way and ignore the obvious, State. For me this raised the question, could this happen in Nevada? Nye County?  Pahrump? Yes, it has and continues. Local parents have told me of similar circumstances and here’s how.

Nevada law, requires the Nevada High School Proficiency Examination (NHSPE) be passed to earn a high school Diploma.

There are five (5) types of diplomas.

Standard You Passed the NHSPE test

Advanced Passed NHSPE + additional credits

Adult  Adult Ed or at risk

Adjusted Student with a disability

Attendance not equivalent, does not replace any other diploma. Classified as a get out of school free card?

Overheard in the audience at last years graduation. I’m so proud of (pick any name), when he walked across the stage and got his diploma.

Well you may want to check what kind of diploma your little Lord Fauntleroy got. Here are the graduation stats for Nye County. There were 226 graduating, walking across the stage in cap and gown. There were 78 advanced diplomas and 110 standard diplomas. Those in cap and grown ceremony were the ones who passed the NHSPE?  188 of them. So that leaves 38 that got something else. Shouldn’t graduation be a matter of pride, of personal and group accomplishment? Isn’t the symbol of crossing the stage and receiving your diploma an important part of what graduation is all about. Even more important is the fact that we keep reading and hearing about graduation rates.

All states have different requirements to get a diploma. California has the California High School exit Exam, ‘CAHSE’, requiring 13 credits.  Nevada, 24. New York 22.  Massachuset is established by local boards. Nebraska local boards have no school exit exam. We keep talking about graduation rates. Again I say, HA!

Until every state and district uses the same grading system I will not accept that Nevada is in the bottom strata of our education system. We are not. This is a challenge. Can we grow it in to a giant accomplishment. There is nothing as exhilarating as a challenge met and overcome. It is the most exhilarating high you can have.

I believe we can do better and then again, maybe we already are. Until then, lets rename Nye School District to, The Nye School District of Education Excellence and make everyone proud of what we can do.

I appreciate your feedback.

Andrew Alberti Jr