Thousands of high school seniors from throughout Cobb will walk across the stage with their classmates as part of graduation ceremonies this weekend. However, many other Cobb seniors will not have that chance due to a standardized test being phased out this year.
Passing the Georgia High School Graduation Test is a requirement for all Georgia high school seniors to graduate from high school. The test consists of four subject areas–science, social studies, math and English-language arts. According to the Georgia Department of Education, students have up to five chances to take the test and earn a passing grade, which is basic proficiency score.
However, after next year, the GHSGT is no longer a mandatory requirement for graduation. Students who enrolled between Fall 2008 and June 2011 will have the option to either pass each of the GHSGTs or pass one of the two equivalent End of Course Tests in each corresponding subject. Students enrolled beginning July 2011 will only be tested with End of Course Tests.
Some students and their parents spoke out about the issue before last week’s Cobb Board of Education meeting.
As a result, Deputy Superintendent Alice Stouder and Board Member Lynnda Crowder-Eagle promised the parents and students that the district would hold a special graduation ceremony for those who pass the test in the summer.
Students who do not pass the statewide test are given one final retest opportunity in July.
“It’s wonderful. That’s all we ask that they have a ceremony and wouldn’t get cheated out of it,” said Sheila Burgess, grandmother of Campbell High School senior Shaianne Payne.
Payne is one of the students who will watch her classmates walk the stage from the audience.
“Because of that one test, I cannot walk, and I just don’t feel that’s right,” Payne told Patch before the special ceremony was announced.
“(Graduation) is a rite of passage. You never get to do this again,” Payne said.
For Payne and her family, not being able to walk with her classmates is unfairly preventing her from participating in an experience she’s earned from four years of hard work.
“She flat out told me that I was not good enough,” Payne said of her high school counselor. “I don’t let anyone tell me I can’t do something. I’m a go-getter.”
Briana Maultsby had a similar experience with another counselor.
Her mother, Carlotta Cooper, spoke on behalf of Briana, who said the her guidance counselor told her, “If you drop out now, you can go ahead and take your GED like you should have last year.” Briana had a child last year, but continued in high school because she wanted to get her diploma, Cooper said.
Patch reached out to the guidance counselors, but one could not be reached for comment and the other said she could not discuss the issue because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
Do you think the students should be allowed to walk? Tell us in the comments.
CORRECTION: The original story stated that 358 Cobb seniors would not be walking with their graduating classes. However, that number is not exclusive to students who did not pass their Georgia High School Graduation Test, but includes students who will not walk for various reasons.