The Business Council opposes this bill because it weakens the graduation requirements established by the New York State Board of Regents.
Before the Board of Regents raised academic standards, students were able to graduate from high school by passing tests at the 8th grade level. Enrollments in remedial courses in community colleges and the complaints of employers about the lack of preparation of recent high school graduates, both demonstrated that tens of thousands of high-school “graduates” were being turned out each year without adequate preparation. For example, it was reported last year that 5,000 potential CUNY students who were originally admitted to bachelor's degree programs based on courses, were discovered to be not be ready for college when they failed tests the university uses to determine college readiness.
Consider how little a “C” average in high school means. An article in the Spring 2004 American Educator cites research that the chances that students with high school averages of C or lower will earn even one college credit are less than 50-50. Yet jobs requiring a bachelor's degree will grow by a quarter by the year 2008, and jobs requiring an associate degree will grow by nearly a third (31 percent). Jobs requiring only a high school diploma will grow by just 9 percent.
The skills and knowledge required in the workforce continue to increase at a rapid pace. This bill would turn the clock back 25 years to the pre-1980's system we had even before Regents' competency tests were instituted. Furthermore, allowing high school graduation to be based on a school's discretion only serves to absolve schools of the responsibility of making sure that a high school diploma means the student received a real high school education. This is the path to exacerbating every social and economic gap we have in society.
This legislation will be included as one of the scoring measurements of The Business Council's “Vote for Jobs Index 2005.” This is The Business Council's annual assessment of legislator's action on key issues of concern to the state's business community.