AMERICAN NOTES: Newthink

New York's board of regents last week voted unanimously to require all high school students in the state to pass a ninth-grade reading and mathematics examination in order to graduate. Several of the regents hailed the new standard as a "giant leap forward." After all, the New York City board of higher education, seeking to restrict the "open admissions" policy of the City University of New York, decided last December to impose an even less taxing standard on college entrants: an eighth-grade reading level in English.

Perhaps other giant leaps forward are in the offing. An eleventh-grade examination for a...