Some high school seniors have to be feeling pressure after last year's graduation issue when not all students got to march with their class because of Georgia High School Graduation Tests requirements. Last month, the state passed a mandatory variance which will help the students breathe a little easier.
Students earning a diploma must pass all five areas of the GHSGT, which includes writing assessment, English/language arts, mathematics, social studies and science. The mandate allows students who fail a portion of the tests to apply for a variance. While the variance creates a loophole, the state attached restrictions which make it a small loophole.
Students must pass three out of the five exams. They must have attempted to pass the test four times and followed each failed attempt with a remediation course. They must have passed the course for which they failed the graduation test and must have come close to the minimum 500 passing score each time the test was taken. They must also have a 90 percent attendance rate.
After fulfilling all these requirements, the student must file with the state department of education for a variance. Dr. Barry O'Neill, the McDuffie County assistant school superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said guidance counselors will attempt to identify the students who qualify for the variance. Dr. O'Neill said the state's requirement for the student to attend a remediation course will be the solution to the problem.
"Part of me is concerned that the students may let their guard down because they think there's an escape clause," he said. "But the good thing is that the state requires they have to go to the tutoring we provide, and we provide it better than other counties. ... Our statistics show that students who go to our tutoring end up passing the tests ... so the problem solves itself. They don't have to file for a variance, because lo and behold, they did it on their own."