Some local 11th graders need more than a second chance.
In December, 71 students at Thomson High were given the opportunity to retake portions of the Georgia High School Graduation Test that they did not pass during the original administration of the test in fall. Only a handful of those students passed.
According to THS Principal Bill Reese, those students who were unable to pass the retest will be given other opportunities to pass the test. They will also receive special instruction to help get them ready for the test.
"They can take it again and again," said McDuffie County Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Kathy Collins. "Of course we'll continue to work with them."
One method used at THS for assisting students who have to retake sections of the test is called a "blitz." This consists of intensive concentration on areas of the graduation test objectives.
Most of the work for those students has been in the areas of social studies and science. Only 12 students needed to retake the language arts section and 18 retook the math section. Of those, four passed for language arts and five passed the math section.
In social studies, 53 students retook the test, and only six passed. Science was the largest area of failure with 55 retakes. Of those students only three passed.
"Typically our students do very well in language arts and mathematics. Not just ours, but across the state kids do more poorly on social studies and science," Dr. Collins said. "That's being addressed at the state level now with the new QCC (Quality Core Curriculum)."
Dr. Collins said that the the better performance in math and language arts is similar to other schools across the state. She also said it can be attributed to the way that each subject is taught.
In math and language arts, students build each year on what they learned during the previous year. In social studies and science, for the most part, new subject material is covered each year, limiting the amount retained.
Aside from the work that the state is doing to correct that problem, the McDuffie County School System is looking to address the situation on the local level.
"We're looking at this summer more intensive prioritization of the curriculum at the high school in all content areas ... so that we can determine what is absolutely necessary for students to master," Dr. Collins said.
Also, next year's 11th grade class will have a jump start on the graduation test. All 10th graders at THS took the PSAT this year. School officials can use the results to see where students need help.
"We'll be able to target individual objectives for individual kids," Dr. Collins said.