The un-graduates

It’s high school graduation time in metro Atlanta and many will hold ceremonies tonight.

Some seniors won’t graduate because they can’t pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test – a series of exams designed to make sure students learned what the state says they should know in math, science, English and social studies.

About 4,000 high school students fail some part of this test each year. Many will pass on retests but some never will, meaning they will be denied a diploma.

I and other reporters get dozens of emails around this time of years from frustrated parents and students. The State Board of Education will grant waivers in some cases, but many will be denied.

Proponents say the tests — which are not as hard as the End of Course Tests (EOCT) — are a way to guarantee that students leave high school with basic skills to succeed. They say these tests are a way to raise student achievement. (The results are used to comply with No Child Left Behind.)

But critics say exit exams are unfair. They point to statistics showing poor and minority students struggle the most with these tests. Some argue the tests punish the students for faulty or lax teaching. Others say principals and teachers are able to determine without the state’s exam whether a student should graduate.

Should we require students to pass an exam before they earn a high school diploma? What should be on that test?

59 comments Add your comment

Reality

May 22nd, 2009
9:08 am

A high school diploma needs to mean something more than that the student spent 12 years sitting in a classroom.

There is so much grade inflation and teachers are pressured to pass along students from grade to grade even though the student has learned nothing. Heck, even the CRCT is meaningless because students fail this and yet are passed along to the next grade anyway.

The GHSGT is a very very simple and basic test. It is on the 8th grade level. If a high school graduate doesn’t know enough to be considered at an 8th grade level, then they should not get a diploma, PERIOD.

Joy in Teaching

May 22nd, 2009
9:17 am

Amen to Reality. The tests are written on an EIGHTH grade level and contain BASIC information. I personally feel that it is too easy and lesses the value of a high school diploma in this country. Unfortunately, we are living in a society that does not value working for an actual education.

It’s sad.

Tony

May 22nd, 2009
9:37 am

“Unfortunately, we are living in a society that does not value working for an actual education.”

In this sentence is enough for a full-scale sermon.

The truth is, we have become a society that expects something for nothing. People who work hard to get ahead are being punished because there are others that have made poor financial decisions. Our government has determined that “it is not fair” for people to lose their homes, so the rest of us are “bailing” them out. Not to mention the highly paid Wall Street people who are also benefitting from dipping into my wallet.

Education is only as valuable as the work put into it by the student. While the teacher is charged with creating the circumstances to bring about learning, the student has an equal responsibility to do his or her part. When our parents and community members devalue this work ethic we are teaching our children some of the most harmful lessons of their lives.

Regarding the tests, there are some problems with these tests. It is not as easy as making a claim that the exams are on the 8th grade level and therefore are valid to determine graduation. The science test, with which I am most familiar, is unduly difficult because it is filled with questions about minute details that are not related to living life successfully. I have seen many students held back from graduation just because of this test. Yet, they have gone on to earn degrees and become productive citizens. I challenge all our legislators to take the science test and post their grades.

Danteach

May 22nd, 2009
10:42 am

I took the science test and it was easy. They ask basic science questions. What is the formula for density? If you have a battery, a wire, and a lightbulb, how would you make the lightbulb come on? What is photosynthesis? Basic science information. There is no reason that the kids aren’t passing. Unless, you aren’t studying at home. Unless, you mouth off at the teacher when she asks you to do an assignment. Unless, you are more interested in your cell phone, PSP, and doing the “Stanky Leg”.

Teacher, Too

May 22nd, 2009
10:53 am

Tony, eloquently put.

I have many thoughts about this, but I can’t express them any better than Tony, especially the entitlements.

Clueless

May 22nd, 2009
11:01 am

The ELA GHSGT is closer to a 6th grade level.

FultonTeacher

May 22nd, 2009
12:03 pm

I have mixed feelings on this subject. On the one hand, I certainly agree that a student should be able to pass a basic skills test. When I graduated the state test was the BST and I can recall many students not graduating because they couldn’t pass that test. It was very extremely easy and I just couldn’t understand how anyone could fail it. That was in the late 80’s.

On the other hand, we have students that have been passed along because if we can’t show a mountain of paperwork proving that we did everything in our power as teachers to help the student master the skills, they must be passed. It becomes more work for the teacher than it does for the student. And even then, I’ve had a principal tell us to “get them outta here!”. If we continue to pass them along, then a parent has a right to be frustrated when their child is denied a diploma. It’s a difficult situation, but it begins in kindergarten. I don’t think that we can ever fix this system.

Lisa B.

May 22nd, 2009
12:13 pm

“I don’t think that we can ever fix this system.” Fulton Teacher, I agree completely.

William Casey

May 22nd, 2009
12:15 pm

The EOCT is easy. The GHSGT is incredibly easy. Anyone failing them didn’t do much in high school.

Danteach

May 22nd, 2009
12:41 pm

Research shows that children will be behind if you don’t catch them at an early age. How hard is it for a parent to teach their child to read? The alphabet, how to write, and numbers by the time they start school? If they don’t want to do it, somebody in the family is literate enough to teach them the basics. It would help out with the graduation rate, reading, math, etc.

If a teacher is potty-training a pre-K student (true story) and teaching students the basics. They will forever be behind.

Teacher, Too

May 22nd, 2009
1:26 pm

Potty-training in PreK? Are you kidding? John Rosemond (the AJC carries his column on Saturdays) says that children should be potty trained by 2 years old, two and a half at the latest.

Aren’t PreK kids about four years old? Why is it a teacher’s responsibility to do this…oh yes, perhaps the parent feels entitled to send a nonpotty trained kid to school.

Danteach

May 22nd, 2009
1:52 pm

Yes, they were. But you should ask some of the pre-K teachers what they have to start out with. It is some interesting stuff.

TW

May 22nd, 2009
2:20 pm

The issue isn’t so much that we have a group that will not graduate, but what are they supposed to do?

This is a by-product of a system that makes the assumption that every kid ought go to college (how convenient for colleges, especially when mised with unconscionable tuition rates).

We, as a society, would do well to take a good, hard look at the existing K-12 model. Why, with as much as society has changed over the decades, has the system not?

jim d

May 22nd, 2009
3:17 pm

Reality,

“A high school diploma needs to mean something more than that the student spent 12 years sitting in a classroom.”

“The GHSGT is a very very simple and basic test. It is on the 8th grade level”

I couldn’t agree more with your first statement but let me point out that your second one brings to light the value of the GHSGT in regards to the what those diplomas are truly worth, an 8th grade education.

David

May 22nd, 2009
3:43 pm

If a “student” cannot pass an incredibly simple, amazingly easy test that covers the very basic knowledge and concepts that they were taught, then they should not graduate.

If anything, too many students that do not understand these simple concepts are graduating, and these “graduation” tests need to be revamped and made exponentially more difficult. The reading level and phrasing of the questions need to be raised to an appropriate level, and not debased to that of a middle school student or less for a high school graduation test. The topics and concepts covered need to demand more detail and a thorough understanding of those concepts, not the poor standards that are currently in place.

If any student should struggle with a test, then they did not learn the material, and should not be passed and advanced to the next level. End of story.

Snuggie

May 22nd, 2009
4:17 pm

I imagine that 90% of these super stupid kids are from one group. This is the group that expects a free ride where ever they are, and seem to make it on 90% of the crimes shown on the nightly news.

Friday

May 22nd, 2009
4:19 pm

“We, as a society, would do well to take a good, hard look at the existing K-12 model. Why, with as much as society has changed over the decades, has the system not?”

Thanks, TW! It is obvious that Georgia schools are painfully lacking. Elementary schools no longer teach basic skills unless they happen to be on the CRCT. Without a good foundation how are these kids going to graduate High School? And what is the purpose of Middle School? My son has been bored to death for three years! I guess I’m one of “those” parents. I send my kids to the state run daycare and homeschool them when in the evening. It’s the only way I can be sure they will have a decent education.

Texas Pete

May 22nd, 2009
4:20 pm

These DA kids will never amount to anything anyway. We might as well cut to the chase and put them in prison now before the rob and kill us.

Mike D

May 22nd, 2009
4:21 pm

Can we deport these retards back to Africa and Mexico?

Martha

May 22nd, 2009
4:35 pm

TW is so right!!! As is Fulton Teacher!
A …American schools worked pretty well before the “everybody goes to college” bandwagon left the station. At one time a diploma had different designations…yet still was a diploma. It might be designated Business prep/ Mechanical prep/ College prep/etc. A student was actually prepared for something in which he/she might actually do and at which he might succeed.

Gateacher

May 22nd, 2009
4:40 pm

Thank you folks for renewing some of my faith in the general public. Anymore it is as though common sense and personal responsibility are things of the past. The sense of entitlement and the poor work ethic of some (definitely not all…but some) students is ridiculous.
As has been pointed out…the tests are on a very basic level. And from junior year to the time of graduation, a student has 5 opportunities to take and retake each test. There should be some standard required for the endorsement of a diploma.

No

May 22nd, 2009
4:46 pm

I don’t think the exams should be required because the skills supposedly that are tested aren’t really used in an environment outside of a class setting, really. The tests really teach how well a student was prepared for the content on the test. So, testing begets more testing and no one really knows anything other than what is on a test. I’m a teacher and I know this as a fact. The tests are only about giving the impression something is taking place and as a ranking mechanism for schools to poke out their chests. But, honestly, anyone can take a workbook that covers all the “essentials” of what’s commonly on these tests and teach kids to pass. They really are a waste of time, of resources, of teachers’ talents and of students’ brains. And, at some point, kids just start to tune out of it altogether because, of course, before you take the real tests, you have to take God knows how many practice tests and “benchmarks,” and it’s just utter nonsense. If higher education operated the same way, colleges would probably be empty because at the end of the day, employers want people with skills, not the ability to memorize terms, facts or even the ability to figure what formula to use to solve some irrelevant equation or whatever the case may be on some meaningless test. And, there are plenty of people doing just fine in the world and in their lives who weren’t tested to death. Many are the very people making the laws and creating this nonsense. But, they forget, I suppose.

Stevie B

May 22nd, 2009
4:52 pm

Well the world needs ditch diggers and prostitues. It appears that we will have 4000 new recruits to fill in.

Tink

May 22nd, 2009
4:59 pm

Wow..it didn’t take long for the Racist to make an appearance.

Lee

May 22nd, 2009
5:07 pm

Oh good grief…

Graduation tests, EOCT, CRCT, ad infinitum are merely the symptoms of a much larger problem. That is, teachers and administrators have been passing students along from grade to grade who could not do the work.

And here I thought all y’all “professionals” had a code of ethics.

Gee, do you think if the Professional Standards Commission started yanking teaching certificates, it would get your attention? Which brings up another question, you would think the PSC would be all over this grade inflation / students sitting in the 10th grade performing on a 5th grade level situation. Apparently they’re more concerned with how many online diploma mill Phd’s there are.

Years ago, when a teacher signed a report card that said “Promoted to the xx grade,” it meant something.

Seems to me that’s not the case anymore.

BehindEnemyLines

May 22nd, 2009
5:12 pm

Poster “Reality” summed it up very well right off the bat.

Slick Willy

May 22nd, 2009
5:14 pm

I think Obama will weigh in on the matter and say all of the kids that passed the test are really just too smart and should be dumbed down like the poor 4000 dumb dumbs. How dare those smart kids to work somewhat to pass an easy test and leave these unfortunate 4000 behind.

IEatCats

May 22nd, 2009
5:53 pm

Mike D – Well put.

Bat Boy

May 22nd, 2009
6:02 pm

If we didn’t have the content tests many would be arguing that the schools are not broken. The tests are the sunshine of truth. Deal with it.

vcatron

May 22nd, 2009
6:03 pm

When I went thru school not everyone was expected to go on to college. We had a college prep track, general business track, and vocation al track. We were expected to know basics in math, science and English. Regardless of your path to graduation parents formed a major part of the student education and generally made sure students were not disruptive and/or disrespectful to faculty and others. Yes, we did have bullies but the administrators did not put up with their antics.

Unless you are “special ed” you should be able to do basic math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and balance a checkbook), Write a coherent sentence with correct grammar and spelling (texting does not count). You should also read proficiently and be able to understand written instructions.

For those of you who think teachers are the issue……. The real issue is PARENTS who are not involved in the real education of their “my kid does no wrong” children. There is a direct correlation between involved parents and successful students. The liberal part of society has removed real discipline form our schools and society. The generation X kids are in for a real awakening when their employer tells them “You are fired because you refuse to act in a responsible manner and be accountable for your actions.” (after they repeatedly are late, rude, fail to follow company policies, Etc.).

Sam

May 22nd, 2009
8:01 pm

Astounding, but not surprising, given the APS culture fouced too much on numbers — test scores and raising the graduation rate — and focused too little on the humanity of the children.

http://www.11alive.com/video/default.aspx?aid=108222

William Casey

May 23rd, 2009
10:19 am

What do we want our schools to do… “educate” or “train?” The short answer is “educate my child and train other peoples’ children.” Try telling a parent that their child isn’t “college material” even when it’s painfully obvious.

Coppermine

May 23rd, 2009
11:01 am

Let me point out a situation we confront at my business. We hire high school graduates to work on the production floor of a manufacturing plant in Hall County. We see applicants from the surrounding counties. A person who goes to work for us must be able to apply basic middle school math and English, verbal and in writing, to do their job. A product has to be measured by weight after reading a list of materials. A working knowledge of decimals and or the percentage equivalent is needed. At the beginning of the workday, our people are to read a paragraph, or two, written by the person working the shift before and understand what has happened. At the end of the shift they are expected to be able to form their thoughts in a logical order and write down those thoughts so the next shift can understand what they are explaining. We used to call that reading with comprehension and writing with clarity. We find that very few, these would be non college prep students, can do the math or the language requirements. As someone who will be paying these graduates and providing them with a means of livelihood I do not care if they can pass an eighth grade test, and I have reached the point where it no longer matters if they have a diploma in hand. Neither equips these young people to do a basic production floor job. The test is in place because we are not educating our children. From what I read here, the test is not the answer either. We need to focus on the problem of providing an effective education and stop trying to just pass a test that has no practical meaning. We can argue all day about who should be given a waiver or brag all day about how well our school did on the test, but in the end it just does not matter. Poor education is poor education, no matter how it is measured.

ScienceTeacher671

May 23rd, 2009
12:09 pm

You’ve got to wonder where the parents who are complaining now were for the past 9-12 years when those same children were being socially promoted through elementary and middle schools.

I don’t think parents realize how ridiculously low the passing standards are on the CRCT. So far, I’ve had exactly one parent tell me that she didn’t want her child socially promoted from middle school, because she didn’t think he had the skills to succeed in high school. The rest have said that although their child failed the reading and/or math CRCT, if was because the child “didn’t test well” – not because they didn’t know how to read or do math.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

May 23rd, 2009
12:45 pm

Within the last five minutes I checked the AJC Sports blog dealing with Michael Vick’s return to the NFL. This Sports blog had posted 288 entries. At 12:41 PM on Saturday, 5/23, this Education blog has posted 26 comments. What are the implications of this imbalance in response rates?

ShoeShee

May 23rd, 2009
4:16 pm

Just exactly what do you expect the kids unable to acquire a diploma (after 12+ years at a desk) to do? Do you expect them to continue the rest of their lives with no diploma? What if they want to go to a trade school but they can’t, because they couldn’t pass the science portion of the GHSGT? Shouldn’t there be some kind of diploma of completion that would allow them to get a halfway decent job or attend a trade school?

catlady

May 23rd, 2009
7:33 pm

Teachers do not pass incompetent students on because they WANT to. Please get that straight.

At my school you can make all f’s and fail the CRCT twice and you will STILL be sent on. It is NOT the teachers who want this.

The “system” assumes that every teacher who has ever taught a failing kid is incompetent. They accept no other reason for the failure. Hard to believe a kid has the bad luck of having an incompetent teacher every single year.

ScienceTeacher671

May 23rd, 2009
7:51 pm

I suppose my earlier post will show up Monday or Tuesday.

Yeah, ShoeShee, it’s always the science portion. The ELA portion is written at maybe a 6th grade level, probably because it would be politically incorrect to admit we’re graduating students who can’t read.

Meanwhile, part of the science and social studies tests actually test reading comprehension – the questions include long reading segments that could be omitted if “they” only wanted to test science or social studies knowledge.

Try asking the DOE about the reading level of the science or social studies portions of the test — they either can’t or won’t tell you.

ScienceTeacher671

May 24th, 2009
8:15 am

Catlady is correct – in our system, if the 8th grade teachers give a student the failing grades s/he deserves (and they are under tremendous pressure not to) the principal simply writes “Administratively promoted” on the report card, signs it, and the child is sent on the the high school anyway.

DB

May 24th, 2009
8:46 am

If you can’t show that you’ve learned the material, then you don’t get a diploma. Simple. Why is that so hard to comprehend? Oh, I know — because they’ve never been held responsible for their education and now think that, instead of a social promotion, they should get a social graduation.

Incredibly frustrating? Probably. I’d be embarrassed, too, if I couldn’t pass such an exam after 12 years of education. But their frustration is not a call to action to pass them, anyway. It’s a sign that maybe they need to buckle down and learn this stuff once and for all. It cheapens the diploma for everyone if they are handed out like candy.

Lee

May 24th, 2009
10:34 am

DB, no, the problem is that TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS have been passing students along for twelve years and finally, in the last few weeks of school, they want to say “Ooops. Sorry, we were wrong all along. My bad.”

Do you educators not read your posts and comprehend what you are saying? By saying there is grade inflation and social promotion, you are admitting that you have violated your own Code of Ethics.

To wit:

“Standard 4: Misrepresentation or Falsification – An educator should exemplify honesty and integrity in the course of professional practice. Unethical conduct includes but is not limited to: … 3) falsifying, misrepresenting, omitting or erroneously reporting information regarding the evaluation of students and/or personnel;”

http://www.gapsc.com/Ethics/NEthics.asp

Y’all want to be considered “professionals,” maybe you should try to act like professionals and do the job we taxpayers hired you to do.

Northern Visitor

May 24th, 2009
1:03 pm

Exactly Lee. I don’t see why a simple issue as education is so complicated south of the Mason Dixon. I hate to use the term slack-jawed but…

Dr. John Trotter

May 24th, 2009
3:05 pm

This past week or so, MACE has received two anonymous complaints about cheating and falsification going on at two middle schools — one in Clayton County and one in DeKalb County. The administrator at the former apparently, from the contention of this anonymous teacher, is encouraging teachers to count students as present when they are actually absent, in hope of making AYP. Let me just quote directly from this teacher’s letter: “…The sad thing is that we will never know if we really deserve the honor of AYP due to the altering of the records. We were asked to count at risk students present when they were really absent. The counselor found out and warned us not to do this and warned that we would be reported. Another problem is that we are still being encouraged to count students present when they are not. I believe that attendance records are being altered also. I want to make AYP without fabricating our data…We have been asked in advance to count students present in the event that they are absent in the future, and also go back days and count them present. The problem mainly occurs if the student approaches a certain number of absences. We were given a list of particular students to watch for. It was [her/his; redaction mine] way of saying these students will keep us from making AYP, so do what you have to do. In other words, if they are absent, count them present. Attendance records are not true reflections.” This educator went on to describe the horrific teaching conditions at this school and how the principal offers no suppot but even undermines the teachers. Interestingly, this educator writes: “The environment is so hostile that even the counselor is rumored to be in counseling.” Well, anonymous educator, if you think that the environment is bad now, wait until the California “Reject”/Marine Drill Sargeant arrives. There will undoubtedly be more pressure to cheat and falsify. These Gypsie Superintendent…should I say “Educational Sl_ts”? No? Too harsh? But, they jump in and out of differrent school board beds, depending how much money is waved in their faces. They “love” and “care” for your community’s children — until a better offer comes their way, and then they will uproot their pseudo roots and traverse the country for more BIG MONEY and more people to CONTROL. Well, these Gypsie Superintendents are cut from the same cloth, and they think that they can just “command” test scores to be raised…and often time these scores will go up a miniscule point or two, but to the sacrificing of educational integrity and truth.

I think DeKalb had a situation where about 36 or 37 elementary were in a summer session. All had failed the CRCT. But, when they re-took the test, wouldn’t you know it?! They ALL passed with flying colors — some with near perfect scores! Sometimes these flakey and mean superintendents must think that the real people in the public are imbeciles. Sort of like that recent “Bullying Report” in DeKalb. Who didn’t think that Crawford Lewis’s Administration would come back with a “Report” that the child was not bullied? Again, Crawford, we are not imbeciles. Talking about DeKalb County (where the other letter came to us; it was also sent to “Whitleblower” at WSB TV): What about a teacher who is allegedly taken out of his classroom on a regular and fulltime basis to serve as an “Assistant Principal”? First of all, the students are left with a substitute teacher on a regular and fulltime basis, and this teacher is illegally used in administration. This violates OCGA 20-2-210 and 211. These administrative duties are not part of his “job description,” which, by the way, is required by law. The students are not benefiting from this teacher who is apparently walking the halls and/or doing paperwork. But, this is minor compared to another egregious violation of the law: DeKalb County, under the unleadership of Crawford Lewis, refuses to the follow the Grievance Law (for certified personnel). This law is OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq. The Office of Internal Affairs (under the direction of State Senator Ronald Ramsey) is a joke. It is a sham and a farce. Just “shell action” is taking place when the Office thinks that it can dismiss a grievance against the school system if the subject is too thorny for little ole Crawford Lewis, the Superintendent Clown. How can teachers feel secure about reporting incidents of bullying or the lack of support from their administators when the teachers report the bullying when the Office of Internal Affairs thinks that it can delay, bury, ignore, and finally “summarily dismiss” complaints which are legally filed? No, Ronald Ramsey, it doesn’t work like that. I know that you are a State Senator, but you need to learn the law and then abide by it. I have the Statute right in front of me. It reads that “…[T]he complainant shall [nice word there] be entitled [another nice word] to an opportunity to be heard, to present relevant evidence, and to examine witnesses at each level” (OCGA 20-2-989.8[4]). Pretty precise language. What say ye? No, I am afraid that so many of our school systems these days act like “Gansta Systems.” I call DeKalb County “Gangsta System Number One” now. And that is saying something to surpass the Atlanta Public Schools! The school system in Clayton County is coming up strong, though (I mean, by the way, in the Thug Department).

Cheating and falsifying records? Does it happen in our public schools? What planet are you from? Does it happen? Do roaches climb walls? Does it get dark at night? Does a cat have a tail? Is Crawford Lewis a “Candy A__” Superintendent who is afraid to process grievances? Is MACE willing to take on these “thuggish” school system administrations? You know the answer to all of these questions. Enough for a Sunday afternoon. (c)MACE

Dr. John Trotter

May 24th, 2009
3:19 pm

Part I

This past week or so, MACE has received two anonymous complaints about cheating and falsification going on at two middle schools — one in Clayton County and one in DeKalb County. The administrator at the former apparently, from the contention of this anonymous teacher, is encouraging teachers to count students as present when they are actually absent, in hope of making AYP. Let me just quote directly from this teacher’s letter: “…The sad thing is that we will never know if we really deserve the honor of AYP due to the altering of the records. We were asked to count at risk students present when they were really absent. The counselor found out and warned us not to do this and warned that we would be reported. Another problem is that we are still being encouraged to count students present when they are not. I believe that attendance records are being altered also. I want to make AYP without fabricating our data…We have been asked in advance to count students present in the event that they are absent in the future, and also go back days and count them present. The problem mainly occurs if the student approaches a certain number of absences. We were given a list of particular students to watch for. It was [her/his; redaction mine] way of saying these students will keep us from making AYP, so do what you have to do. In other words, if they are absent, count them present. Attendance records are not true reflections.” This educator went on to describe the horrific teaching conditions at this school and how the principal offers no suppot but even undermines the teachers. Interestingly, this educator writes: “The environment is so hostile that even the counselor is rumored to be in counseling.” Well, anonymous educator, if you think that the environment is bad now, wait until the California “Reject”/Marine Drill Sargeant arrives. There will undoubtedly be more pressure to cheat and falsify. These Gypsie Superintendent…should I say “Educational Sl_ts”? No? Too harsh? But, they jump in and out of differrent school board beds, depending how much money is waved in their faces. They “love” and “care” for your community’s children — until a better offer comes their way, and then they will uproot their pseudo roots and traverse the country for more BIG MONEY and more people to CONTROL. Well, these Gypsie Superintendents are cut from the same cloth, and they think that they can just “command” test scores to be raised…and often time these scores will go up a miniscule point or two, but to the sacrificing of educational integrity and truth. (c)MACE

catlady

May 24th, 2009
4:15 pm

What is sad is that it takes 11 years (the GHGT is given prior to the last day of the senior year, and you get multiple chances to take it) of NOT being held accountable and THEN all of a sudden you ARE accountable. How much better it would have been to allow teacher discretion based on experience and professionalism to have held the student back at the point the deficits began to show and make an effort to remediate those deficits and wake student and parent up to their responsibility in this thing called “getting an education” or have an alternative track available to get the child in sp ed (RTI DOES NOT SERVE THE INTEREST OF MOST STUDENTS) or to get them in an area of study better suited to their abilities? Kids working on 1st grade level at the end of 3rd grade are not going to “catch up”. They will, in fact, become behavior problems or other serious drags on the learning of other students. Either way, everyone loses.

I had an admistrator react in disbelief and horror when I said we should hold back kids who don’t master basic skills. You would have thought I was a rattlesnake. We can’t do that! She almost swooned at the idea. We send them on, providing “needs based instruction” along with grade level instruction (and we “expose” them to that)–although the grade level instruction makes no sense if they haven’t mastered the instruction that was provided in years past. You see, if “cat” does not mean anything to you, how much good does it do to try to teach you it is a noun? If you cannot subtract 26-24 how much long division do you think you will master? Yet teachers are required to try, over and over, to do this same stupid thing.

I do not think the GHGT should be done away with. It is not a difficult test and any student who can not pass it should NOT have a high school diploma.

ScienceTeacher671

May 24th, 2009
6:34 pm

If you look at the data breakdowns on the DOE webpage, the vast majority of regular program 11th graders pass the GHSGT on the first try, but about half of the “students with disabilities” and “English language learners” fail.

It’s possible that many of these “un-graduates”, who haven’t passed after 4-5 attempts, fall into one or both of those subgroups.

DB

May 24th, 2009
7:38 pm

Lee, you don’t think that a lot of those social promotions are the result of parents screaming at administrators to promote their kids even if they are failing? I’m sorry, but I truly do not think that there is a single parent, child, teacher or administrator out there who is honestly surprised when a child fails the GHSGT.

Those who mentioned that the problem started when it became a given that every child was college material are right – not every child needs to go to college. When middle and high school stopped educating kids and started testing them ad nauseum, they lost sight of their goal, which is preparing them for life, not for college.

Tony

May 25th, 2009
10:28 am

Dr. Spinks – The imbalance you cite regarding the sports posts compared to the education posts is at the core of the problem facing our nation. We want entertainment! We don’t value education. Today’s front page has a load of crap glorifying a criminal on his way to jail. What are the messages we send our kids when the media outlets so glorify these things and demonize education?

Anyone at the AJC listening?

N.Ga. Teacher

May 26th, 2009
2:58 pm

There are a lot of great comments on this blog. It is a sad commentary on society that we need standardized tests to be graduation screens or watchdogs. Nothing will ever be as good as the judgement of a professional teacher who has worked with a student over the course of the year. A generation ago, that worked great. Only students who deserved to pass did. The only standardized tests we took were the IQ tests in childhood, the SAT and the ACT, then the GRE if we wanted to go to graduate school. Back then students EARNED graduation, and school systems were not evaluated by how many students they “graduated” but by the way they produced respectful, hardworking graduates who DESERVED to graduate.

Ernest

May 26th, 2009
3:06 pm

But N.Ga. Teacher, don’t we have this additional level of ‘testing’ prior to graduation grow from the fact that citizens felt the schools were not turning out deserving graduates. Back then if someone wasn’t ‘cut’ for school yet had a strong back and work ethic, they could always get a job at the ‘plant’. Now because those types of jobs are not available, there was a more concerted effort to ‘train’ those students to succeed in school. Add to that the visibility with measures in place examining and comparing schools to schools across districts, states, and the country, the quality of school systems was used to help recruit businesses.