Diploma criteria change

June 17, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

The president of the Washington County Board of Education on Wednesday praised the Maryland Board of Education for adopting more flexible high school graduation requirements.

The state board approved the change at its meeting Tuesday following input at a May 25 public hearing. The changes go into effect for the class graduating in 2009.

County school board President Edward Forrest, with the support of the rest of the board, submitted a letter supporting changes to a plan drafted by the state board in December 2003.


That plan would have required high school students to pass all four High School Assessment tests to graduate. The assessments consist of tests in English 1, algebra/data analysis, government and biology, and are taken at the end of the courses.

The change adopted Tuesday would require students to pass each of the four assessments or to receive at least a combined passing score, Robert Brown, coordinator of testing and accountability for Washington County Public Schools, said Wednesday.

A minimum score would be set for each assessment, meaning a student could not score below that minimum and still receive a combined passing score, Brown said. The minimum score would be lower than the passing score for each subject.

Students can take the High School Assessment tests more than once, Brown said.

The new option was developed after parents expressed concern that their children might do well on three of the assessments, for example, but not receive a diploma because they performed poorly on the fourth, a state education department spokesman has said.

Forrest on Wednesday referred to the change adopted Tuesday as a "compromise without sacrifice."

The school board has plans in place to work with students who are having trouble passing the tests, he said.

When school board members discussed the graduation requirement at a May 18 meeting, the majority agreed they support it but expressed some concerns. Among the concerns were how the requirement would affect the dropout rate, the cost of remediation and the turnaround time for providing the test results.

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