an astounding $500 million per year to administer, and "do not lead to more college attendance, increased student learning or higher employment".
As somebody who used to be in the business of hiring high school graduates for low level work, that makes perfect sense to me. When you have a stack of applicants for a job, you can't realistically interview everybody. So how do you narrow down the pile? A fast way is to separate high school graduates from high school drop-outs and focus on the second category. And you know what? It's not an unreasonable distinction to draw. You're much less likely to end up with an employee who can't do basic math or fractions (and if they're weighing out food at a deli counter or working a cash register, you want them to know basic fractions, decimals, and addition and subtraction), and you have evidence that they will stick to something to the point of finishing it. I had some good workers who hadn't completed high school, but virtually all of them had higher aspirations than the job I could offer them, and often they were trying to build additional credentials (or at least get a GED) or were actively seeking out employment that would lead to better opportunities.
What difference would it have made to me that the pile of high school graduates was "certified" by some test? None. No difference at all. Similarly, if I were a college admissions officer looking at students grades and classes completed, what difference would the final standardized test of their high school career make to me? For that matter, what are the odds that a college-bound student would have taken a high school completion exam before applying for and quite possibly being admitted to college? And if I were a high school teacher I would either be at a school in which it was necessary to spend time "teaching to the test" to keep the school's rate of passage at an acceptable level, or I would be at a school where I could take for granted that the students would pass and focus on teaching my subject.
That money, it seems to me, would be much better spent by having high schools add additional requirements for graduation - more math, science and English classes - and hiring qualified teachers to teach those courses.