Exit exams will be given to Class of '09

Dec. 19, 2003, midnight | By Feza Kikaya | 16 years, 10 months ago

Board members worried dropout rates will increase

The Class of 2009 will be the first class required to pass standardized tests before they can graduate and receive one of five newly proposed diplomas.

According to a front page Washington Post article, State Board of Education members voted to make High School Assessments (HSAs) a requirement for graduation despite concerns that dropout rates will increase, especially among poor and minority students.

Richard Wilson, the ninth grade administrator, said he thinks about two-thirds of students will pass the exams. Wilson stated that it was too early to tell if dropout rates would increase significantly, but he said "they have increased in Massachusetts where they have a similar type of program."

The Washington Post states that members believe the exams will prepare students for college and the increasingly demanding job market. Wilson agrees with the board members on the benefits of the HSAs in the sense that students will work harder. "If the tests are hard but fair and students come out of school better educated, then the work force will be better," he said.

Junior Angela Hayes, who has taken all four HSAs, does not think the test will prepare students for their future. "Not all the [exams] relate to a specific career," she said.

Board members' other concerns lay within the plan proposed by state School Superintendent Nancy Grasmick, who proposes five different diplomas for graduates, according to the number of HSAs they pass. In addition to passing the Maryland Functional reading, writing and math tests, students will now be required to pass these exams in Algebra, English, NSL and Biology to get a full Maryland diploma.

The article also stated that students will be able to take the tests up to 10 times. By senior year those who have passed only three of the HSAs will be given an alternate diploma. Another diploma will be created for students who drop out but receive a GED. Special Education students that pass three by senior year will receive a different alternate diploma; severely disabled students will work for a certificate of completion.

Algebra teacher Anne Garrison believes many students probably will not feel pressured by the fact that they have to pass the exams. "As freshmen, students don't see consequences for their actions," she said.

Maryland is now one of 19 states that have mandatory exams, a move that is expected to be adopted by about 30 states by 2009.

For the Washington Post article, click here

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Feza Kikaya. Feza Kikaya is finally a SENIOR in the CAP program at Blair. She enjoys driving, hanging out with friends and laughing. Most importantly, Feza is counting down the days to graduation so she can begin a new chapter of her life in college. Her favorite … More »

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