Graduation exams not here to stay

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2009

Some students in local school systems are taking state-mandated graduation exams this week, but in the next few years, that will all change.

After meeting approval from the Alabama State Board of Education earlier this year, both Pike County and Troy City School Systems will begin implementing new testing strategies that will take full affect in the 2011-2012 school year.

These changes will impact students from third grade up, but high school students will see the most effects.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“Testing this week is designed for those students who will graduate in May 2010,” said Troy City Schools Superintendent Linda Felton-Smith. “It’s primarily for seniors who have not passed parts of it.”

Currently, students are required to pass all three portions of the graduation exam before receiving a high school diploma. The tests are given in sections throughout high school years, and according to an article in the Birmingham News, take 15 calendar days out of the year. Under the new requirements, students will instead be required to pass end of course examinations in certain subject areas.

“We will drop the SAT and graduation exams from the program, and we will replace that with an end of course test with various subject areas,” said Pike County Schools Superintendent Mark Bazzell.

In addition to end-of-course testing, students in the 11th grade will be required to take the ACT, a test that is now used as a college entrance exam across the state.

The ACT is taken by 74 percent of high school students, and Deputy State Superintendent Tommy Bice told the Birmingham News he hopes this will help the remaining 26 percent think harder about attending college.

The state will also pay the $75 administration fee, but students who want to take it more than once to improve scores will have to pay for it the next time around.

Since the full implementation will take place in the 2011-2012 academic year, both school systems will begin to slowly make changes to testing in school.

“This year in gearing up for the changes, we will give the Explore 8 Assessment, which is given to eighth graders and the Plan 10 for 10th graders,” Bazzell said.

In the next year, Bazzell said the schools will add the ACT to 11th graders and Workkeys to seniors.

Felton-Smith said Troy City Schools already administers the Explore 8 and the Plan 10.