In October of this year Illinois decided to join the American Diploma Project. Our state standards at the high school level were adopted in 1997 and have not been revised since. In order to refine its standards and bring them into line with other states and other nations, the state of Illinois will revise its standards based on a careful assessment of those of the American Diploma Project. Our close neighbors to the east, Indiana, have already been a part of the project and we can look to their experience to predict our own. The project is based on the premise that:
For too many graduates, the American high school diploma signifies only a broken promise. While students and their parents may still believe that the diploma reflects adequate preparation for the intellectual demands of adult life, in reality it falls far short of this common sense goal. The confidence that students and parents place in the diploma contrasts sharply with the skepticism of employers and post secondary institutions, who all but ignore the diploma, knowing that it often serves as little more than a certificate of attendance. In fact, in much of the United States, students can earn a high school diploma without having demonstrated the achievement of common academic standards or the ability to apply their knowledge in practical ways. The diploma has lost its value because what it takes to earn one is disconnected from what it takes for graduates to compete successfully beyond high school — either in the classroom or in the workplace. Re-establishing the value of the diploma will require the creation of an inextricable link between high school exit expectations and the intellectual challenges that graduates invariably will face in credit-bearing college courses or in high-performance,high-growth jobs.
If you would like to read more about the ADP, click here. If you would like to be involved in the Illinois review of high school standards see me about how you apply.