Does passing test = passing course?
In Baltimore and around the state, educators are focused on getting the approximately 3,500 seniors yet to pass the High School Assessments to the finish line by graduation. Generally, these students made it to senior year having passed the courses related to the tests: Algebra 1, English II, biology and American government. But in Baltimore, a few hundred students fall into the opposite category. They've passed their HSAs but not yet the related courses. In some cases, they're still stuck in 10th or 11th grade as a result. Administrators are studying why this is, since to pass the tests, students have to demonstrate at least a basic level of proficiency. Were they truant from class? Did they have disciplinary problems? Fail to turn in homework?
Whatever the case may be, officials alerted schools in the fall that they were looking into the prospect of exempting students who have passed the HSAs from having to do the remedial coursework. A teacher who e-mailed me this week put it slightly differently: She said guidance counselors were instructed to grant exemptions in the fall -- and they changed transcripts accordingly. Now they're being told they didn't have the necessary school board or state approval and the students must make up the work.
Tisha Edwards, special assistant to the CEO, says the school board will take up this matter in the coming months. She says no one should have changed students' transcripts, and students will have this second semester to complete their remediation.