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Schools to phase out graduation exams

Published 12:46pm Wednesday, January 9, 2013

School systems across Alabama will begin the process of phasing out the graduation exams this year in favor of new end of course tests.

In addition to that, school systems will no longer be graded by the No Child Left Behind standards. Instead, they will be going to a Common Core Curriculum, according to Hartselle School Superintendent Dr. Mike Reed.

“The new standards will apply from kindergarten through 12th grade,” Reed said. “It will require us to change our mindset on how we teach. Instead of preparing the students for the graduation exam and for standardized tests, we will have to prepare our students on how to think.

“We won’t be as concerned about getting the right answer as much as how you got the right answer,” Reed added.

Hartselle High School principal Jeff Hyche has already attended a number of classes on the new requirements. The graduation exam will be phased out over the next three years and will be replaced by end of course tests, which will be administered at the end of each course a student takes.

Reed said these tests are being prepared by ACT and they will contain writing portions on each test.

Reed also said there will just be one diploma offered to all students. All of the advanced academic, vocational diplomas and special education diplomas will be replaced by the new diploma.

“It’s going to take a lot of time and resources to retrain our teachers to adapt to this new system,” Reed said. “This isn’t just something that we are going to have to do on the high school level. It will require retraining of teachers at all levels. It’s a much different type of instruction than we are currently doing at this time.”

Reed said the Annual Yearly Progress will be replaced by benchmarks that schools and school systems will be required to make.

“This is to help create a more standardized curriculum across the country,” Reed said. “So if a student had to move to a different school, he or she would be able to be studying the same curriculum at any school in the country.”

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