Schools complete statewide

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2000

testing for sophomores, juniors


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March 18, 2000 10 PM

High school sophomores and juniors in the area may be breathing easier now that they are through with their required state graduation exams, and the relief many of them feel is shared by area school administrators.

Dr. Linda Felton, principal of Charles Henderson High School, said the five days of testing went smoothly, but not before the tests turned the school topsy-turvy.

"It took a lot of adjusting to make it go well," Felton said. "Testing two grades for four and five days required a lot of manipulation in order to be able to reserve the classroom settings for the tests."

Felton said CHHS doesn’t have a large testing center that accommodates the number of sophomores and juniors, so classrooms had to be used for the large-scale tests.

"We had to reassign a number of buildings to pull this off," Felton said. "It took a lot of work on the part of the faculty, staff and even the support staff like the custodial workers to make things work out."

Juniors tested for four days, while sophomores tested for five. Students who wish to receive their high school diplomas must pass the tests, which are part of a new educational curriculum by the state.

But Felton believes the testing is something that requires a closer look by state educators.

"One of the things that concerns me is the amount of lost instructional time during testing," she said. "I think we need to take a closer look at this and weigh factors like facilities. Some schools aren’t fortunate enough to be able to have large testing centers for these tests."

Felton said she is pleased by the effort students put into the tests and is hopeful that CHHS students will have a high level of passing scores.

"The students worked hard on this," she said. "They put in a lot of time and effort."

The tests came in 90-minute blocks over the four- to five-day period, concluding on Friday.

Felton said after the strenuous tests, students seemed exhausted from the level of concentration required by the tests.

"There are a lot of things to be considered," she said. "Students seemed to be drained after they tested, and it did take a lot of juggling to do this."

Although Alabama’s requirement of graduation testing is not new, the program has evolved this year, challenging students with longer tests over a longer period of time. Logistics also proved tough for CHHS, and students were forced to test in smaller classrooms.

Some area students say that the test is very difficult, but Felton said she has not seen the test booklet due to mandates from the state.

"We are not allowed to look at the test booklet," she said. "We can only supervise the testing process."

While Felton did not say she disagrees with the overall concept, she does feel that lost instructional time and the strain on the school’s facilities have not been fully considered by the state.

"It’s tough when half of the student body is testing," she said.

Felton said she is glad to have the tests behind her and is looking forward to getting back to a regular schedule this week.

Sophomores take what is dubbed a pre-graduation test, and Felton said they are now being tested to help them cope with the new test that has been designed to be tougher than tests in the past. If sophomores pass the test, their scores stand and they are not required to take tests next year.

Failing juniors are given another year to take the test and will be tested again as seniors in order to give them the chance to obtain their diplomas.