While high school students put in a lot of effort preparing to take the Georgia High School Graduation Tests, the teachers who write the tests have no small task on their hands, either. Thomson High School Social Studies teacher Rosa Hunt spent three full days last week in Atlanta reviewing test questions for the state department of education.
"This particular meeting was to choose questions that would be field tested on the spring test," Ms. Hunt said. "It's very detailed."
Ms. Hunt said there were 17 other educators from across the state in the group reviewing the Social Studies questions. Each question had to be proofread three times, voted on and signed off that it met all criteria. Ms. Hunt said the group read through 981 questions, 10 of which will appear on the test in the spring.
In addition to proper wording, the teachers had to ensure that each question was dually aligned for the old Quality Core Curriculum course of study and the newer Georgia Performance Standards course being phased in by the spring of 2010.
Educators in other fields of study worked on the English, math and science portions of the test in other rooms. The Georgia DOE selected who would participate in the reviews and hosted the event, but the company that is contracted to write the tests conducted the review sessions.
"I have worked on this before," Ms. Hunt said. "I've worked on it when it was a different contracted company, and this group is really, really good.
Ms. Hunt has been teaching social studies for 35 years and is a past president of the Georgia Council of social studies teachers.
"I love the children," she said. "Every year, I get my retirement packet, but I can't fill it out because I love them. I think my car would start every morning and automatically go to THS because I've been here (for so long.)"
For the last two years, 89 percent of Thomson High School juniors have passed the social studies portion of the tests, which is slightly lower than the state average of 91 percent.
Passing all four content areas (science, math, English/language arts and social studies) of the GHSGT plus the Georgia Writing Assessment is required to earn a diploma in the state. Students are given five opportunities to pass the tests between their first attempt as juniors and their scheduled graduation date. Anyone who does not pass the test by the graduation date can continue to retake the tests until they pass.
As previously reported in The McDuffie Mirror, 177 members of the Class of 2008 had passed all five parts of the graduation tests as of May, and are set to march and receive their regular diploma.