State postpones grad exam shift

Published 12:03 am Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Alabama Department of Education has decided to postpone a measure that would phase out the current Alabama High School graduation exam at least for another year.

The decision came in light of budget cuts and curriculum changes, officials said.

The state previously anno-unced the decision to phase out the five-part test in favor of end-of-course exams.

With the new tests, students would not be required to pass the tests, instead the exams would count as much as 25 percent of a student’s report card grade in select subjects.

Current students will continue to follow the original requirement, which is that they must pass at least three sections – reading and math, and then either language, social studies or science – to graduate until the state implements the new tests.

Opp City Schools Superintendent Michael Smithart said the only effect that local school systems will see as result of the measure is minimal.

“The only significant effect is that this year’s eighth graders will be the last class to take the AHSGE,” he said. “This year’s freshmen would not have taken it under the previous guidelines.”

Officials originally said that having the new exams would save time and money; however, developing the end-of-course exams would cost millions of dollars at a time when the state education budget is suffering historical cuts.

The eventual end-of-course exams would be harder than the current graduation exam, which has been changed three times over the past three decades.

Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson said he thinks the end-of-course exams will be better suited for the schedule Andalusia High School uses.

“We are on the block schedule,” he said. “And I kind of like the end-of-course exam because it helps us to be more up-to-date on the test. I think that it will allow our teachers to be more focused on the course tests. But right now, we’re used to the graduation exam as it is, so until the state has us change, we’ll keep on as we have been.”