Unlike most New York City high-school seniors last June, Kathryn McCauley's diploma wasn't riding on her performance on five grueling state Regents exams.

Instead, the 18-year-old stood alone in a classroom with two teachers and a working scientist. There, at Urban Academy, her public school on the Upper East Side, she delivered a dissertation-like defense of a 32-page paper she wrote about her experiment on the effect of gender on reading comprehension. She passed and graduated.

Read the whole story at The Wall Street Journal