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The D.C. State Board of Education approved a resolution Wednesday night that would allow the city to create a diploma to grant to students who pass the GED exam. 

Those who oppose the provision say granting diplomas to these students might incentivize current high school students to drop out, but board members agreed that the certificate GED students receive stigmatizes them in the eyes of potential employers. 

The resolution, which directs the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to draft regulations to create the diploma, passed unanimously.

A new version of the GED released last January is much harder to pass, evidence Ward 3 member Ruth Wattenberg used in support of passing the resolution. Wattenberg urged the board to amend the resolution to include information regarding possible consequences of granting diplomas to GED graduates, including research from 2002 that claims GED availability is a primary reason high school students drop out.

But Tierra Jolly, the member from Ward 8, said that amendment failed to take the GED program’s new difficulty level into consideration. “To me, not only is this quite outdated information,” Jolly said, “it’s also in reference to earlier versions of the GED, not the far more rigorous version.”

The amendment ultimately failed.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson voiced his support for state diplomas at a Council hearing this September. “If school is satisfactory and [kids] want to be in school, they’re not going to be saying, ‘Oh hey, it’s quicker for me to just go home and work on a computer and not see any of my friends, and I will just do the GED,’” Mendelson said.

The board will take a second vote on the resolution—which also allows the city to grant diplomas to graduates of the National External Diploma Program—in January or February. If created, the District will join Maryland, Virginia, and 11 other states that issue high school diplomas to GED graduates.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery.