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State graduation tests to be phased out

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Passing the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT) will soon be a non-issue for Georgia's public high school students, beginning with the class of 2015, according to state education officials.

Those students' knowledge base will, instead, be measured using the End-of-Course Tests (EOCT) in social studies and science, and the Common Core Assessments in English/language arts and mathematics, according to the Georgia Department of Education.

The state Board of Education recently adopted a proposal to transition away from the GHSGT, toward the EOCT as a measurement of student achievement for high school graduation.

The GHSGT examines students' mastery of subject areas over a number of years in high school, while the EOCT examines content studied over the course of a semester or year, said Matt Cardoza, director of communications for the state Department of Education.

State education officials said the transition plan was developed in accordance with the planned Common Core Assessments, to be implemented during the 2014-15 school year.

The assessments, officials noted, are currently under development, with Georgia being a part of a consortium of 48 states aiming to create a set of core standards, known as Common Core State Standards, for K-12 education in English/language arts and mathematics.

The state's transition proposal will eliminate the GHSGT as a condition for earning a high school diploma for students entering the ninth grade in the 2011-12 school year and beyond, according to the proposal.

"For these [ninth-grade] students, the EOCT will contribute 25 percent to the course grade; students will be required to pass the course with the increased contribution of the EOCT," the proposal stated.

The proposal outlined that, for students in the tenth grade or higher, in 2011-12, a passing score on a content area EOCT -- in English, math, social studies, or science -- will be accepted in lieu of passing the corresponding content area on the GHSGT.

For these students, the proposal stated, the EOCT will continue to count as 15 percent of their course grade. They will be able to take the GHSGT, if they did not meet requirements for passing their respective EOCT.

Cardoza added that, under the proposal, all students will continue to take the Georgia High School Writing Test as a requirement for high school graduation.