High school seniors all across the state are finishing their classes and ordering those caps and gowns. But for hundreds of students this year a new state law is stopping them from crossing that stage.
"It is tough on families because kids are working hard, kids are doing summer school, kids are staying after school, kids are going to intersession, getting tutors. And then it's disheartening when they miss the test by two points."
Washoe County School Deputy Superintendent Traci Davis is talking about the roughly 1,300 students in Nevada who have passed all their classes but have failed at least one high school proficiency exam. In the past those students would be issued a Certificate of Attendance and allowed to walk in graduation. Now, for the first time they're being told that's not an option. "We don't want to give kids a false sense of achievement. Our goal is to put a diploma in every kid's hand."
It's a policy changed by the 2013 legislature in Assembly Bill 288. The goal behind it is to get kids to strive for that diploma and clear up any confusion about what a Certificate of Attendance actually means.
Here's the issue though: the law is taking effect now just two years before high school proficiency exams are phased out entirely. With the requirements for a diploma changing in a few years anyway this law is sparking some uproar in the education community. "There's a certain amount of confusion around the certificate of attendance, both from parents and stakeholders across the state," says Steve Canavero, Nevada Deputy Superintendent.
So, the State Department of Education is leaving it up to each individual district, whether these kids which amount to about 5% of the total senior class, can walk in graduation with their friends. "We can understand the position that some families are in, but at the end of the day, a law is a law, and we have to follow that."
Since the issue is left up to each district - the policy ranges for graduation this year. In Washoe County, students who passed three out of four proficiencies will be allowed to walk. All the students do get other chances to pass-- over the summer and through adult education programs.