Skip to content
The Editors

A High School Diploma Ought to Mean Something

Students finishing secondary education should be required to take an exam.
Make sure they earn it.

Make sure they earn it.

Photographer: Sandy Huffaker/Corbis/Getty Images

America's high schools have a credibility problem: The country's graduation rate is at a record high, but too many students are receiving diplomas without earning them. The most straightforward solution is to require all high-schoolers to pass exit examinations before graduating.

A national push to boost high-school graduation rates began a decade ago, spurred by fears that urban high schools had turned into "dropout factories." The federal government made graduation rates a benchmark of schools' progress. In some districts, graduation rates affect the pay of principals and school administrators and determine whether underperforming schools are shut down.