Honors student fails graduation test

An Atlanta honors student who flunked the state graduation test five times missed commencement ceremonies at Benjamin E. Mays High, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The story is focused on the student’s disappointment. Hoping for a waiver, she’d invited out-of-state family members to the ceremony. The story doesn’t try to explain how someone who lacked the skills to pass an English Language Arts test in five tries nonetheless made the honor roll. Is she a math-science ace but weak in English? Or maybe the high school expects little from students and inflates its grades accordingly.

The student plans to attend Benedict College, a historically black institution that admits students in the top 75 percent of their class.

The Georgia exam isn’t hard, writes Just a Grunt on Jammie Wearing Fool. “Yeah I am real impressed with your ‘My kid is an honor student’ bumper sticker.”

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Comments

  1. Pat Patterson says:

    I found the Mays HS website, link below, and it appears that the school does have a good reputation as a magnet or academy for the better students. Judging from the bus scheduale it also seems to take students from throughout Atlanta but is overwhelmingly black. The school is divided into five areas and your comment about this student acing his science/math classes seems to be accurate as the requirements outside of a specialized area are at best minimal.

    But I really can’t except the idea that a student can excel in one area of learning, especially in the sciences, and not be able to pass a reading or writing test. How successful can such a student be when going to college or even working without the ability to read, understand what is written and be able to translate those and his ideas into scientific notation and then back without the basic ability to manipulate language

  2. Pat Patterson says:
  3. tim-10-ber says:

    I take it this is not an academic magnet school with admission standards? I didn’t see anything on the school’s website…I bet the exit exam is set at the 10th grade level, too. Very sad…Hmmm…just read the blog article…could the exit exam be set at the 8th grade or 9th grade level? So what is the real story? Not the one that made headlines but the story behind the story…grade inflation all the way through high school to keep the pass rate high, the exit exam easy and hope the students learn enough to pass after 4 years? Is that the real story? Just wondering…

  4. Is she a math-science ace but weak in English? Or maybe the high school expects little from students and inflates its grades accordingly.

    Wow, tough question. Is she a math whiz going to a school where the sophomore math and reading remediation rate is nearly 70%? And a school with an average SAT score of 803?–and that’s from the few who submit a score?

    I mean, please. It’s grade fraud.

    Just wondering….

    Really? Just now getting around to wondering? You’re slow off the mark. It’s been well-established for years that in majority URM schools, grades are a fraud.

  5. GoogleMaster says:

    Mean SAT score of 803… I was sort of hoping that was for the new test with three sections, so it would be 803/2400, but no. That SAT average score is from 2000-2001, before they added the third section. Using the recentering chart, that’s about a 670 for those of us who took the SAT before the Great Recentering of 1995.

  6. Richard Aubrey says:

    Among others defrauded or betrayed is the kid. Told for years she’s terrific, she can’t compete at the lowest level.

  7. This isn’t shocking to me. One of my cousins was an honor student who didn’t pass the basic high school graduation exam in Oklahoma. If a parent signed a form, you could be excused from the failing score to graduate at the time. Her mom signed without ever wondering how her daughter could get all As through her senior year and not pass an exam geared for 10th graders.

  8. And we’re all surprised by this because…….???

    Please, it’s just another day in a government school.

  9. I do know some bright kids who were simply really bad test-takers. The anxiety of taking a timed exam or whatever interfered with their ability to perform as well as they ought to. But failing FIVE times?

  10. I pity the fool who has Cal for a teacher.

  11. Mark Roulo says:

    There *is* something a bit odd going on here.

    From the school website, I find a document with the following factoids.

    *) “Percent of Grade 11 First-Time Test Takers Passing the Georgia High School Graduation Tests” for 2007-2008 ranges from 91% for writing to 94% for science. *MOST* of the kids at this school pass the state required test to graduate, so for an Honors student to fail five times is quite an outlier. If most of the kids weren’t passing in the first place, I could accept grade inflation for the honors program as an explanation, but with most of the students passing this doesn’t work.

    *) The average Verbal+Math SAT score for 2007-2008 is 452+461=913. This is post-recentering, but still puts the average SAT taking student at this school at about the 30th percentile nationwide. Not great, but again, you’d expect these kids to be able to pass a high school exit exam.

    *) The ACT scores appear to be quite a bit worse than the SAT scores, which might be selection effect. But I’ll still get back to 90ish percent of the students at this school do seem to pass the Georgia high school exit exam.

    It looks to me like there is something odd and not just grade-inflation going on here. But I have no idea what it might be.

    -Mark Roulo

  12. Mark Roulo says:

    I do know some bright kids who were simply really bad test-takers. The anxiety of taking a timed exam or whatever interfered with their ability to perform as well as they ought to. But failing FIVE times?

    Plus, she seems to have passed the other four tests. Does test anxiety only show up for one subject?

    -Mark Roulo

  13. When I saw it was the language arts test I thought perhaps she was ELS. Nope. The other three exams were science, social studies, and a written exam. How is it possible to pass the other three and not the first? Seems strange.

  14. I’m not clear from the article on whether she is on the honor roll or took honors level classes; “honors student” could mean either. If she was simply on the honor roll, she could have done that by making A’s and B’s in lower track classes. It isn’t unusual for us to see a SPED kid who probably didn’t score proficient on the state tests qualify for NHS this way every now and then.

  15. Hainish says:

    Looking at the actual requirements of the test suggests another possibility (from the <a href="http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ci_testing.aspx?PageReq=CITestingWA11"Georgia DOE website):

    Students in the eleventh grade participate in the Georgia High School Writing Test and must pass the GHSWT to earn a regular education diploma. Students are asked to produce a response to one on-demand persuasive writing prompt. The writing test requires students to produce a composition of no more than two pages on an assigned topic. The two-hour test administration includes 100 minutes of student writing time. The test is administered three times a year so that students have multiple opportunities to take the test before the end of the twelfth grade. The main administration of the GHSWT takes place in the fall of the eleventh grade year. Results of the GHSWT are used to identify students who may need additional instruction in academic content and skills considered essential for a high school diploma.

    Types of Writing

    The GHSWT is a test of persuasive writing. In persuasion, the writer assumes a position on an issue and uses language to influence the reader. The purpose is to express a writer’s opinion on a subject either explicitly or implicitly. Through the support provided, the writer presents a convincing point of view.

    This kid could be a whiz at grammar and usage, have a rich vocabulary, and excel at analytical thinking. The test gages none of those things. It’s a persuasive writing assignment – a student who knows the format (5-paragraph essay) and has a good sense of what counts as persuasive “reasoning” (and at least average English language competency) could pass it.

    Unfortunately, this student is probably too analytical to really grok the requirements of the writing task. Yes, my opinion is informed by personal experience – I would have failed a test like this before mastering the fine art of b*** sh** sometime after college.

  16. Mark Roulo says:

    Hainish,

    Brittany passed the writing test. Also the math, science and social studies tests. It is the English/language arts test that she is having problems with.

    -Mark Roulo

  17. So rather than make sure her daughter gets the education she needs, her mother is going to get a waiver. Yes, missing graduation is embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as a life-time of working in lousy jobs.

  18. An Atlanta honors student who flunked the state graduation test five times missed commencement ceremonies at Benjamin E. Mays High, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

    A couple of years back the MA state HS basketball player of the year was also an honors student and class president. He was ineligble to play in college as a freshman because he failed to meet the minimum academic requirements.

  19. And yet some ask why we need standardized testing to keep schools accountable?

  20. Hi, i would like to say that some kids are just not good test takers. I dont know about this individual but i know lots of kids who are very smart (straight A’s) but get average SAT scores. This is just because of the lack of test taking skills.

  21. Hainish says:

    Well hey, Georgia, why make things simple?

  22. Mark Roulo says:

    Hi, i would like to say that some kids are just not good test takers. I dont know about this individual but i know lots of kids who are very smart (straight A’s) but get average SAT scores. This is just because of the lack of test taking skills.

    Do you know kids who are not good test takers for just one test out of five? Because Brittany passed four other tests, my guess is that this is not just poor test taking skills. Still, she could know whatever they are testing for on this test, but test poorly …

    -Mark Roulo

  23. Richard Aubrey says:

    How do you get straight A’s without taking tests and doing well?

  24. As I recall, the same thing happened to Bridget Green (2003) who was the valedictorian of her class, but couldn’t graduate because she had failed her state’s exit exam in math (which is set at a 10th grade level) a total of 5 times, despite a grade of “A” in Algebra II.

    Here is the link to the story:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,94864,00.html

    Her ACT score of 11 was lower than 99 percent of students who took the college admissions test.

    Can you say social promotion and self-esteem malarky, folks.

  25. GoogleMaster says:

    Bill, you omitted the punch line to the Bridget Green story:
    Green plans to keep retaking the test till she passes. Then she’ll enroll in community college. Based on her high school grades, she’s confident she can succeed. She wants to major in elementary education.

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  2. […] Joanne Jacobs asks the right questions about the Atlanta Journal Constitution story about an honors student who wasn’t able to graduate with her class. The story is focused on the student’s disappointment. Hoping for a waiver, she’d invited out-of-state family members to the ceremony. The story doesn’t try to explain how someone who lacked the skills to pass an English Language Arts test in five tries nonetheless made the honor roll. Is she a math-science ace but weak in English? Or maybe the high school expects little from students and inflates its grades accordingly. Categorized under: Uncategorized. Tagged with: Education. […]