Tuesday, May 27, 2014

High School Graduation - what does it mean?

Georgia has high school graduation requirements that have changed 4 times since I started teaching. The class of 2014 has 5 graduation tests to pass (math, English language arts, science, social studies, and writing). The class of 2015 only has to pass writing.

Math and social studies vie for the highest failure rates, for very different reasons. Social studies is memorization - math, well, is math.

Several years ago the rules were modified to allow one of the end of course tests to substitute for the grad tests. So if you passed the 9th grade or 11th grade English end of course test, you were considered to have passed the grad test in English.

There are 2 end of course tests in each main discipline (math, English, science, social studies) which you take once and which account for 20% of your grade. (OK, if you fail the course, you retake the end of course test). And you can take the grad test in March of your Junior year, July before Senior year, September and November and March of your Senior year. So 7 opportunities to pass the 4 main graduation tests, 5 to pass writing.

Approximately 1 in 5 of this senior class was missing one or more of the graduation tests when we got to graduation.

Some of the parents took this even less well than normal (since the rule about the tests changes next year) and - after pitching fits with counselors, principals and at the district offices, several decided to host an alternative "graduation" for those people who who just need the grad test to graduate.

I have a problem with this. There is a minimum bar for graduation. I already feel like we lower it constantly, and now we have a feel good graduation ceremony that doesn't mean anything.

And - in looking at the program someone brought me, I realize that two of the people who participated had passed all of the graduation tests. They didn't pass the courses.

They didn't even meet the minimum for THIS graduation.


Ron. said...

I suppose one idea that many might subscribe to is to just have a check box labeled "Time Served"...

Of course, for many of these, checking the box might just be too much work.

Ricochet said...


Karen S. said...

You are right.

Kathe W. said...

Totally agree....it seems to me they just lower the bar over and over again- basically reducing the diploma to a meaningless piece of paper . A slap in the face of the kids who truly worked and did well.