As its unanimous vote tends to reflect, the state school board was right in deciding to phase out administration of the Georgia High School Graduation Test, a battery of exams in English, math, science and social studies that includes a writing assessment.
With its vote, the state board eliminated the graduation test for the coming fall’s freshman classes in Georgia’s public high schools.
Students currently in high school will have the option of passing end-of-course tests or the graduation test in order to earn a high school diploma. Students still must pass the writing test to earn a diploma.
Part of the reason for both of those circumstances is, of course, the accountability provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The federal government has allowed state governments to develop their own evaluations, so there has been some incentive for the states to develop tests to present students in the best possible light.
According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, there is “no evidence that exit exams make diplomas more meaningful in the labor market.”
Additionally, according to the center, a “focus on learning out-of-context facts to pass exit exams detracts from preparing students for the work required in college.”
So, whatever the reason for their decision – whether they were simply gaming the system, or truly wanted better data on student performance – the state school board has done high-school students a real favor in phasing out the graduation test.