I want to challenge the Union-Bulletin’s editorial on Jan. 19 urging our lawmakers not to delink state testing from the current high school graduation policy.

The editorial is misleading and refrains from reporting the unjust consequences of the nation’s most punitive graduation policy. In 2013, our lawmakers voted our current graduation policy into law that is tied to state testing. It is a “one-size-fits-all” model.

If a student is not a round peg that can fit a round hole, they are denied access of a high school diploma. The assumption that there has been a movement to lower student expectations and standards is a false narrative.

The challenge has been to create equitable standards for all students, and to recognize that a “one-size-fits-all” system of evaluating a student’s potential has no research to support it. When students fail a state algebra exam, it’s not a predictor that they will fail in life.

 We also know from brain science that students who come from a toxic home environment have high levels of stress that can severely impact brain development. For some of these students, they can have physiological challenges with abstract concepts that are out of their control.

I met a family from the west side of the state in 2013 whose daughter had a 3.8 GPA, a full ride to Evergreen State College, but the daughter could not pass the state algebra exam and was denied her high school diploma and the opportunity to participate in the graduation ceremony. The mother and daughter were survivors of extreme trauma.

 The mother’s advocacy for her daughter fell on deaf ears. Those who support tying the graduation requirements to state tests always use the false narrative that to do so is lowering standards.

I challenge the U-B or The Seattle Times to provide a public record showing the percentage of ethnicity and poverty students who have been denied their high school diploma since 2013. You’ll be the first entity to be able to access an accurate public record.

We have failed thousands, and continue to keep this information under the radar of public awareness.

It’s not about keeping teachers and administrators accountable, it’s about leveling the playing field and acknowledging that students are more than a state test score. Many states are moving away from high stakes testing, Washington state is leading from behind.

    Jim Sporleder

Walla Walla