Among the many tests that public school students had to take was the Alabama high school graduation exam, which pre-dated the flurry of NCLB testing.
Because students had to pass the exit exam to graduate, the test carried with it stress and anxiety for many teenage students at a time when they already had enough stress and anxiety in their lives.
It was not like the test was overly demanding. Last year, 83 percent of the 11th-grade students taking it for the first time passed the reading portion, 85 percent passed the math and 96 percent passed biology.
However, those numbers might soon begin to drop — not because of poor teaching but because, as the state curriculum evolved, the test did not evolve with it. As a result, the test is dated and does not assess academic standards currently taught in schools.
That’s a main reason why the state Board of Education has decided to drop the Alabama state high school graduation exam.
The students have rejoiced, or perhaps they did until they found out that 11th graders in Alabama’s public schools would take the ACT college entrance exam. Although this does not count toward graduation, it will provide the state Board of Education a measure to see how much progress students are making toward reaching the state goal of having every graduate ready for college or a career.
Still, schools will need to assess students to see if they have learned what they are supposed to learn and are qualified to graduate. End-of-the-course exams for the major required courses would be an option.
In other words, there will still be tests, but they will be part of the courses. Therefore, as State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice summed it up, “If they pass their course work, they will graduate from high school.”
From the perspective of this page, it looks like the school board has made a good move.