Why HSA projects are easier to pass than tests
In my story today for The Sun's Closeup section, I went into a bit more detail than we have previously about these Bridge projects that students can do if they can't pass one or more HSAs. So far, it seems, many students are having an easier time submitting an acceptable project than they are passing a three-hour test. In Baltimore, officials believe that the seniors who don't graduate this year will be held back for reasons other than the HSA requirement.
Of 298 projects submitted in the city between August and November, the pass rate was 62 percent: 84 percent in algebra, 68 percent in English, 75 percent in biology and 20 percent in government. But officials say they've had extensive professional development for government teachers this fall, and they expect that the pass rate (in government and overall) went up significantly for the 880 (total) projects submitted in December.
There are many reasons it might be easier to pass a project than an exam. Besides the fact that a project doesn't have to be done in one sitting, adults are supervising the work to make sure the students are following the correct steps. If a project is deemed unacceptable, a student needs only to redo the portion of the project that was unacceptable, whereas students who fail a test must retake the whole thing.
Not being an Algebra 1, English 2, American government or biology teacher myself, I was interested to read the sample projects available on this Web site.