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The Contender
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Public High School Students In The United States Ought Not Be Required To Pass SEE's To Graduate

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/13/2009 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,448 times Debate No: 10112
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (2)




I would like to Debate Lincoln Douglas style, taking the Negative position.
Please, no nat circut cases. :)
My opponent as the Affirmative will begin.


Alright, this should be fun =).

I affirm; resolved: public high school students in the United States ought not be required to pass standardized exit exams to graduate. My value today will be societal welfare. Societal welfare is the best value for this round, as the ultimate goal of a high school education is to prepare students to be functional, successful members of society. This is best achieved through the criterion maximizing positive social mobility. Social mobility is the degree to which an individual's family or group's social status can change throughout the course of their life through a system of social hierarchy or stratification. We can best achieve societal welfare by allowing individuals the most opportunities to improve their circumstances.

To clarify today's round, I shall define standardized tests as the Garland School District (Texas) does: "Assessments…designed to be administered under specific, standard conditions, resulting in a uniformity in testing environments"

C1: Exit Exams Negatively Impact Various Groups
A) Socioeconomically Disadvantaged
Standardized testing falls the hardest on those who live in poor homes. Family status is a large factor in student performance. Among last year's seniors, those who lived near the poverty line scored 300 points less on the SAT than students in high income homes. High income students managed a relative score increase of 260% compared to students living in poverty. Wayne Camara and Amy Schmidt of the College Board studied factors affecting student performance. They clearly show that middle class children are a third more likely to receive an A average, and twice less likely to receive a below C average than peers living in poverty. If a student had no parents who attended college, they were almost 50% less likely to receive an A average than if even one parent had gone to college.

These findings are not unique to their study. In 2005, Columbia University found that by age three, children of professionals had vocabularies twice the size of children on welfare. By twelfth grade, these poor kids are four years behind the wealthy in reading and math.

When subjected to a exit exams, disadvantaged kids will inevitably do worse as evidenced by the current bias on standardized tests like the SAT. Exit exams unfairly penalize the poor for factors out of their control – parental income and education.

B) Gender lines
Standardized tests are inherently more harmful to girls because of their mental approach to problems. Females tend to favor a systematic approach on tests. We hear from educational specialist Peter Sacks

"Many scholars believe certain tendencies in the thinking styles…of girls…don't add up to [an]…efficient match for the speeded…pressurized nature of…multiple choice…aptitude tests. They tend to be more focused on the process of learning rather than scoring points in the gamey context of most tests. Girls tend to approach standardized tests with a deliberateness and carefulness that makes them less willing than males to guess at multiple-choice questions, which puts them at a disadvantage. Females taking standardized tests may tend to rely more on methodical skills…-organizing, synthesizing, analyzing-instead of shortcuts and tricks that males more frequently use."

In short, females tend to think deliberately – a mindset not encouraged by exit exams. If subjected to one, they would suffer higher rates of failure not because of lack of knowledge, but because of their thinking style. We hear from Debra Viadero, referencing a Stanford University study.

"The detrimental effects of the [exit exams] were harder on girls…than on boys. Girls experienced a 19-percentage point drop in graduation rates after the California High School Exit Exam…was implemented [one and half times that of males]."

Again, we see exit exams harming a group, in this case because of the way that they think! Because of the methodical way they approach standardized tests, females tend to fail more.

C) Dropouts
Implementing exit exams leads to an increased incidence of dropouts. This reduces the number of people exposed to the educational system, and precludes dropouts from the benefits of diplomas. As exit exams increase in difficulty, so do dropout rates. Glenn '06:

"[University studies] reported that students in states with relatively easy exit exams are roughly 4 percent more likely to drop out of high school than similar students in states with no exams. In states with relatively difficult exit exams, students are 5.5 percent more likely to drop out. In states with more rigorous exit exams [some groups] are 7.3 percent more likely to drop out."

Exit exams are strongly correlated with an increase in dropout rates. According to estimates by Professors Warren and Grodsky each percentage point means 35,000 students without diplomas. That means 192,500 students will be pressed into dropping out by high stakes exit exams. Almost 2,000,000 students will be pushed out of the system in 10 years.

C2: High School Diplomas are Necessary for Social Mobility
Individuals without diplomas have their job prospects and health compromised. Apart from being a huge factor in college admissions, diplomas are a necessity in the job market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2007 individuals without diplomas had a 20% lower employment rate (56%) than diploma-wielders. The Nashville Metro Schools projected that those who do not receive a high school diploma earn about $260,000 less than a contemporary with said diploma. As Columbia University adds, adults without diplomas are far more likely to depend on food stamps, welfare and public housing. Without diplomas individuals lose social mobility.

There are three salient impacts here. First, when girls and the disadvantaged unfairly fail exit exams they experience dramatic negative social mobility. The few of them that manage to get jobs earn a quarter of a million less! ! Lacking the money they need to support themselves they have to turn to public options leading to a deterioration in health. They lose out in all aspects of life because of factors out of their control.

Second, exit exams serve only to further entrench people in poverty. Students who come from poor backgrounds are far more likely to fail exit exams, and lose their own social mobility. A large number of students, of all backgrounds, will also be pushed to drop out. Their lower income and education will cause their children suffer the same difficulties. This harm of exit exams extends into the future negatively impacting coming generations. We are only creating further stratification in society – increasing the gap between the rich and poor.

Finally, exit exams fall hard on females, because of their systematic thought process! Without diplomas they cannot secure places in college or the job market – leading to male dominance in society. Not only does this create a perceived ceiling for achievement, it will lead to a societal view of females as subordinates and reinforce negative gender stereotypes.

Because exit exams are detrimental to society, I urge an affirmative vote
Debate Round No. 1


John Dewey once said "Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another."
Thus, I stand in firm negation in today's debate.

Resolved: Public high school students in the United States ought not be required to pass standardized exit exams to graduate."

I offer the following definitions from Merriam Webster Dictionary for clarity.

Ought: used to express obligation, advisability, natural expectation, or logical consequence.

Standardized: to bring into conformity with a standard.

V: Societal Welfare
Societal Welfare is defined as the wellbeing of a society in matters of health, safety, order, education, and economics. Societal Welfare must be held as the highest value because if the wellbeing of a society is in jeopardy, so is the wellbeing of the people living in it.

VC: Educated Citizenry
Educated citizens are vital to societal welfare in the fact that the more educated our society is, the likelier we are to make good decisions and ensure that individuals have the opportunity to maximize themselves to their full potential.

Contention One: Standardized exit exams are the best way to measure knowledge.
Lionel Brown, 2006.

Standardized testing is the best alternative for comparing student performance across different education systems because human judgment is error-prone. Decades of evidence show that the quality of teachers' tests pales compared with more rigorously developed large-scale tests. When used for purposes of accountability, standardized tests can provide more objective and less ambiguous evidence. In one international study that looked at the effects of dropping and reintroducing standardized tests in 29 industrialized countries, academic standards declined, students studied less, curricula became incoherent and selection and promotion became arbitrary after standardized tests were dropped.

Contention Two: Standardized exit exams improve education for future generations.
Jack O'Connell, 2007.

The exit exam has been responsible for significant improvements in our schools, targeted specifically at our neediest students. The California High School Exit Exam has helped our neediest students as much if not more than any public school reform in the last 30 years. Because of the exit exam, more individual attention and more resources have been devoted to struggling students than ever before. And they are working. The California High School Exit Exam is not perfect. But it gives us accountability, and shines a powerful light on our students who need the most help. It has led to more help for those students than anything that has come before it.

Contention Three: The majority of students pass the exams.
Jack O'Connell, 2007.

Results show that an estimated 90.8 percent of graduating seniors have passed both the English-language arts and the mathematics portions of the exam, including an additional 1,759 students who passed the May administration of the exam. "While I will not be satisfied until all California students are successful in gaining the skills measured by the exit exam, I am pleased that the achievement gap is narrowing," O'Connell said. "It is clear that all students are working hard to gain the critical skills necessary for a diploma and for survival in today's global economy. I credit the exit exam for focusing both students and schools on meeting this challenge. We need to sustain this effort until the achievement gap is erased completely." The test is an important benchmark in ensuring that students will be successful in meeting the challenges they will face either in college or the workplace. If they are not able to meet the standards of the exam, how can we, as parents and educators, expect them to be successful in college or the workplace? We need to make sure that they are adequately prepared for the world beyond high school.

For all these reasons and more, I respectfully urge a negative ballot in today's debate & will now move to my opponene't case.

Go to my opponent's value of Societal Welfare. We agree societal welfare is a good thing, so this debate will be determined upon who upholds it better. The reason my opponet cannot possibly uphold societal welfare is because there are no standards in the Affirmative world. There needs to be a basic level of education before we can ever hope to go on to higher education. If there are cracks in the basic education level, one's higher education levels will fall through as well. In the Negative world, I am ensuring students get that basic level of education, while the Affirmative only hopes they will, thus I subsume my opponent's value.

Next, let's move to my opponent's value criterion of Maximizing Positive Social Mobility. Now, my opponent says students will not have opporotunities, but what we have to see is they will have more opporotunities because of the fact that each individual will have the same, basic, equal level of education, thus we can ensure everybody has the opporotunity to prosper within society, and not just some people.

Now, go to my Opponent's Contention One, Sub Point A. Firstly, I would like to point out that it is not the test's fault that these students are socioeconomically disadvantaged. That is a problem out of anyone's control, thus not a fault in the test itself. Secondly, these tests will just prove advantageous for these groups because it will ensure that everybody, including the socioeconomically disadvantaged get a basic level of education, and will not just be pushed out of high school.
Let's move to my opponent's Contention One, Sub Point B. Through this, my opponent implies that females will fail the test. But would this mean that females should never take Standardized Tests due to the imperics my opponent has provided? This would be an inequity within schools, which the standardized exit exam solves for.
Now let's look at my opponent's Contention One, Sub Point C. My opponent claims that the exit exams are strongly correlated with increased drop outs, but provides no justification. Just because drop out rates go up, doesn't nessecarily mean it's due to the exit exams. Also, it isn't the end of the world if you fail this test. You have the opporotunity to take it multiple times, so through this we see fairness because the students are not required to pass the first time. If they fail the first time, they can look over what they missed and improve it for next time.

Next, let's go to my opponent's Contention Two. Now, my opponent tells you all these horrible things are going to happen if we implement these exit exams, but what we have to see is that there is no justification behind these claims. These people will not lose their social mobility, because as I have previously stated, just because you don't pass the first time does not mean you are denied a diploma. As my C-3 states, most students pass these exams with an additional 1, 759 students passing the second time around. And even if you do fail it to the point where you are held back, this doesn't ensure you will drop out.

So, for all these reasons and more, I strongly urge a negative vote in today's debate.


Alright, I'll go Standards/AC/NC.

Value Debate
This debate ultimately comes down to who will create the most benefit for society. This means not looking only to an 'educated citizenry', but to all aspects of life. Neg states that we want people to "maximize themselves", and because of this, we are actually valuing the same thing! She wants people to reach their full potential - which is maximizing their positive social mobility! Thus, in this round we must look to the social mobility created on both sides, and vote for the debater who creates the most positive mobility.

@ Brown Card
Note that this card is all about standardized tests in general. There is nothing specific to exit exams, and thus this is nonunique. Neg doesn't refute any of my evidence here. This is going to flow through the round and become very important. Any benefit that the Neg hopes to draw is also accessed by the Aff through NCLB's standardized tests.

@ O'Connell Card
First, we again have nonunique impacts. There is no specific reason to introduce exit exams when we can instead keep our current system. While this evidence talks specifically about the CAHSEE, there is no reason that one cannot gain accountability through non-SEEs without harming students. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that teachers on their own cannot identify students. SEEs purportedly tell us which students have not achieved basic competency. However, if we're talking about students who cannot muster basic competency, such a lack of ability would be clearly evident in the classroom. If a student cannot apply the quadratic formula or write a coherent essay, their teacher will notice. If we are to negate, we are to believe that teachers and counsellors are so incompetent that they cannot notice when a student is performing poorly.

@ O'Connell 2 Card
Note how Neg only refers to passage rates. At no point does she say that scores themselves are increasing. This is largely because reported success of SEEs comes not from improved student achievement, but from lowering the passage bar. As Professors Warren and Grodsky write:

"This same basic pattern of exit exam policy evolution has played out in a number of states. States begin by setting moderate to high standards and then spend hundreds of thousands of dollars designing exit exams that purport to hold students to these standards. In short order, however, high failure rates and much-publicized legal challenges test the political will of policy makers to hold students to these standards. In the end, politics wins over principle and the exit exam, the passing threshold, or both are altered to increase the share of students who pass the exam."

What actually happens is far from what Neg says. States actually end up lowering the bar to the point where passage rates are meaningless.

Let's now head back to the Affirmative.

Aff C1
A) Socioeconomically disadvantaged
It does not matter whether or not it's the test's fault - as long as an SEE penalizes the poor for factors out of their control, it is unfair and ought not be implemented.

We don't even need an SEE to pinpoint the poorest school districts or find out where money needs to go. The need is fairly self-evident, and NCLB gives us the little data that we need.

Furthermore, she doesn't refute my evidence that says the poor will definitely fail SEEs if they are implemented.

B) Gender Lines
Con doesn't refute my Viadero or Sacks cards at all here. These cards are going to flow through the round and become powerful voters - girls will unfairly fail SEEs for no reason other than their thinking style! She even concedes that I provide "imperics[sic]"! Con then goes on to state that somehow SEEs will solve for the exact same inequity that they create, which is a completely contradictory claim.

C) Dropouts
While Con's correlation/causation argument may have applied if I gave you a single statistic, the fact is that as SEEs get harder and harder, more and more people drop out - particularly the poor. Furthermore, students who just miss the pass mark on their first take are less likely to pass on subsequent tries, especially if they are poor. Debra Viadero notes, referencing a Harvard University study:

"Students who just missed the passing cutoff in 10th grade are 8 percentage points less likely to graduate on time than demographically similar students who just barely passed. And in New Jersey barely failing the test decreases the likelihood of graduation for students overall and especially so for black, Hispanic, and low-income students."

She goes on to explain that the reason is psychological. After being labeled failures once on the test, students perform poorly on subsequent assessments.

This all culminates in my second contention. While Neg states that none of these impacts will happen, she fails to attack ANY of the evidence that I use to link to my impacts! The fact that she doesn't attack the actually body of the Sacks, Viadero and Glenn cards means that the Negative is clearly linked to a dramatic negative societal outcome! This is going to be the primary reason to vote Aff in this round - not only is the Negative case nonunique in many respects, but Negating the resolution will put us in a backslide. When we implement SEEs we only hold the poor down and allow the rich to prosper now. As I have clearly shown, the poor will unfairly fail, and lose the opportunities to improve their lot in life. Negating only adds to the problem of poverty and prevents people from freeing themselves from it. Furthermore, because girls will also unfairly fail SEEs, the progress we have made towards gender equality will be for nought. As girls are prevented from taking positions in the job market and breaking gender barriers, society will come again to view them as the inferior gender.

Because the Negative fails to show any specific benefits of SEEs and will only damage society, I urge an Affirmative vote.

Back to you!
Debate Round No. 2


dixielullabyx3 forfeited this round.


It seems that Neg has forfeited her last speech. Extend through all my previous arguments and vote Aff!
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
"I don't think a made up topic would benefit me in real life"

Lol... how about an intelligent exchange of dialog, practice persuasive writing, a brush up on current events, the economy and political affairs, a consideration of philosophy and moral issues, etc? Well, I'm not here to judge you. I'm just saying that this topic has been posted 1,000 times recently, with the immunization topic being a quick second. Most people here are so sick of it that we don't want to debate it or read/judge it. I'm sure you will do just fine at your tournament without doing this... but I mean, you haven't even posted an argument in the 1st round. You could still be Con and post first. This whole thing just seems like a giant cop out lol. But good luck though, and again, welcome :)
Posted by dixielullabyx3 6 years ago
I start compulsory immunizations in December. Missouri is a month behind everyone else. I apologize if this topic seems repetitive, but i'd really like to break at this tournament, so I figured i'd try anything that may help. I suppose it would be fun to make up a topic, but I enjoy running my cases and seeing what comes up against them. I don't think a made up topic would benefit me in real life, so I don't see the point in doing it. Thanks to those who welcomed me. :)
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Eh, it's just the fact that since people have been doing this topic in real life tournaments, random people come to DDO to post the same exact argument so that other people will accept this debate and help them with their own case. It's just the timing of it all, with the same exact topic always being in the challenge period. I do apologize though and welcome to DDO. Hopefully you stick around.
Posted by wonderwoman 6 years ago
If you wearing compulsory immunization I mght do it
Posted by studentathletechristian8 6 years ago
I apologize. Welcome to DDO, dixie!
Posted by RoyLatham 6 years ago
I don't see a problem with often-debate topics, as only people who are interested need accept the challenge. Think of how many times God/evolution/YEC have been debated here. Ten years from now they'll still be debated.
Posted by Cerebral_Narcissist 6 years ago
Come on people, be nice!
Posted by Xer 6 years ago
Lol, that was a good welcome to DDO.
Posted by dixielullabyx3 6 years ago
We haven't finished with this topic where I live yet. I wanted to get some practice for next tournament.
Posted by studentathletechristian8 6 years ago
No offense, but in agreement with theLwerd, why bring this topic up again? The arguments are so mundane and trite. I don't care if seniors have to take a test or not. Tests are a part of life. Please look at other debates for information and make up an original topic.
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