Oklahoma School Board Makes It Easier For Some To Get Diploma

Thursday, May 24th 2012, 7:20 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Students who are ready to graduate but can't get a diploma - have two new chances. It's a change to the rules - late in the game.

Some students are already going through commencement ceremonies without knowing whether or not they'll get a diploma. It's because they haven't passed their "end of instruction" exams.

Thursday, the state school board created two new pathways to a diploma. The change was to the appeals process for end of instruction exams - which this year impacts students due for graduation.

School districts and some board members worry more changes create more confusion. The board made changes Thursday, but the legislature has tinkered with it too.

04/19/2012 Related Story: Compromise Reached In Oklahoma Graduation Test Controversy

School districts statewide are dealing with students trapped between finishing all of their classes and not passing their end of instruction exams.

"We're roughly talking about 140 students," said Chris Payne with Tulsa Public Schools.

In Tulsa, students have the rest of summer - and the chance to repeat 12th grade - in order to pass. For now, they can take part in graduation.

"It's essentially a contract they have to sign," Payne said. "It does not mean they get a diploma."

The state board has created two new methods for appeal:

  • Students get a diploma if they've been accepted into college.
  • They can get a diploma under a "mercy" rule for unusual circumstances.

The new rules apply to all the current appeals. There is no certain number of students statewide in this situation - but it could easily be a thousand students who won't graduate this year when last year they would have.