Will HSAs hold students back?
School officials in Baltimore and all over Maryland seem to think that the High School Assessments won't prevent many if any seniors from getting a diploma this year. Yes, there will be seniors who don't graduate, but that's the case every year. And those who don't graduate are those who would be held back anyway -- for failing classes, not showing up, not completing service learning hours, etc. Special education students and English learners who have done everything they're supposed to do can apply for HSA waivers.
So how to verify this claim?
Last year, the system graduated 4,019 seniors. In 2007, the number of graduates was 4,118; in 2006, it was 4,108. This year, as I reported yesterday, 3,368 of 4,170 seniors in the city have met HSA requirements so far, and 802 have not. I thought that meant that nearly all 802 would have to get to graduation to make this year comparable to last -- until I remembered the over-age seniors. There are between 400 and 600 of them who started high school prior to the fall of 2005 and therefore are exempt from the HSAs. Some of these students are in special education and bound for certificates, not diplomas. (The city typically gives out 100 certificates or fewer per year.) Still, if 4,500 students or more are trying for diplomas this spring, it seems likely that the number graduating will be the same or more than in years past. But time will tell.
We'll be watching closely in Baltimore and around the state this spring to see how it actually plays out.