The Star Tribune is correct that schools and communities with lower-performing kids need to do more to improve the performance of struggling students ("An incomplete to No Child Left Behind," Aug. 6). However, we caution that it's not good enough to simply ensure students are making "progress over time." Instead, students must be measured against statewide standards if graduates are to truly compete in the global marketplace.
That message apparently has been lost upon certain lawmakers, as evidenced by two bills in the 2008 Legislature that drew opposition from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Fortunately, neither passed.
One bill would have measured students' academic growth against the growth of all Minnesota students rather than state standards. The other would have allowed local school districts, through an appeals process, to award students diplomas despite having failed the GRAD test. These measures together would have lowered expectations for some students and devalued the high school diploma, which sets a minimum competency in reading and math.
It's in everyone's best interest to require all students to meet state standards. We don't do students, our economy or society any favors by awarding a diploma for making progress as opposed to meeting the standards necessary to succeed in today's global economy.
STACIA SMITH, ST. PAUL; MANAGER,
EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT POLICY, MINNESOTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE