So long to exit exams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Educators in Alabama appear to be in agreement: Doing away with the Alabama High School Graduation Exam is a good thing.

The state Board of Education last week voted to drop the exam, which was first applied to the graduating class of 1985. Students had to pass every section of the five-subject exam – language, reading, mathematics, science and social studies — to receive a diploma.

In those years, there have been horror stories of students who did well in course work, but not on standardized tests. Because they couldn’t pass the graduated exam, they didn’t get to cross the stage and turn the tassel.

At first blush, students are pretty excited about this change, too. While they will be spared the exit exam, testing will still be a large part of earning a high school degree. Already, the state department of education is instituting higher classroom standards, and end-of-course exams in core classes will play a large role in being able to graduate.

In addition, all 11th graders will be required to take the ACT college entrance exam to measure their academic progress.

Already, local systems are working to get teachers prepared to deal with the changes. The new standards require more hands-on learning experiences as opposed to the more passive methods of teaching the test, local educators said.

These changes are big for Alabama. They won’t make graduation easier, but hopefully, will make high school degrees more meaningful.