Bill offers students a chance to graduate

February 3, 2017


Last year, 22 percent of Hillsborough seniors did not receive a diploma.

Almost a quarter of seniors went to school for nearly their whole lives and did not receive a diploma for their efforts.

How many of these were because they couldn’t pass the standardized tests required to graduate?

Proposed House Bill 407 would create alternative paths to graduation for students who cannot pass the English FSA or the Algebra 1 EOC.

Filed by State Rep. Ralph Massullo, the bill would allow students to choose from several tasks to complete in place of passing these exams. The options include receiving an industry certification, creating a portfolio showing understanding of the subject area, and achieving an established score on the SAT or ACT tests for the subject.

For many students, this could mean either a path to college or to the workforce with a high school diploma in hand. A diploma would give students going straight into a career a leg up in trying to find jobs. In today’s economy, a high school diploma becomes more essential to job applications every year.

Since diplomas are so important for job applications, they should not come down to standardized tests. A person not passing a single test does not mean that they’re incapable.

These assessments do not define a student’s aptitude or ability to succeed in life, so why jeopardize their career for a single test?
And imagine if you’re a student, and you keep trying to pass that one FSA or EOC you need to graduate. If you know you won’t be able to pass it and get your diploma, why go through high school in the first place?

You could argue that some people are lazy and just sit through the tests, not caring if they pass or fail. But those students are not the majority and this bill wouldn’t affect them. The options are no easier than the exams themselves, they only offer an alternative for those who just can’t pass an exam. Students would still have to apply themselves to complete these alternatives, so those too lazy to pass the necessary exams would not make use of this bill.

Not to mention those who know they are heading straight to the workforce after high school. For some choosing this path, it could be hard enough to go through high school already knowing what you want to do. Some people may not see a point in getting a diploma if there are so many requirements that don’t pertain to their future. The industry certification pathway that Bill 407 proposes would give students not only the motivation to graduate, but a skill set that would be necessary for the career path they have chosen.

It’s understandable that the FSA is not easily passed. The state wouldn’t make tests that anyone and everyone could ace. So for those people who can’t pass these high pressure, high stakes tests, the alternative pathways would relieve the tension and let them do something they are better at. The SAT, for example, tests different types of reading comprehension from the English FSA. And the SAT math section includes other areas of math, in case a student is stronger in other areas of math, but weak in Algebra 1.

The SAT and ACT pathways would also help students get into colleges. If someone is already taking the SAT as an alternative graduation requirement, they could also include that score on their college applications.

House Bill 407 must be passed. Students who have worked hard towards their diploma deserve it. The teachers who have dedicated their time to help these students succeed deserve it. The schools who work to raise their graduation rates every year deserve it. Allowing these alternative pathways gives more students the tools they need to succeed in life- one of the most important objectives of education.

So contact your representative. Go to and find the representative for your area. Then call, email, tweet send mail and postcards to them politely explaining who you are and your viewpoint on Bill 407. Representatives are intended to listen to their constituents, so let them know what you want to see change. Let them know how this bill would help build careers, and allow students to achieve their goals.

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