Exit exam scores are up

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 17, 2002

Late last month the sound of pencil on paper and the squeaking of erasers could be heard all over Dallas County Schools. It wasn’t a mid-term exam causing all the anxious pencil scratching, but instead the graduation exam that all Alabama students are required to pass if they want to get their diploma.

This year 81 percent of seniors at Dallas County High passed the exam while 80 percent of them passed at Keith Middle-High. Only 50 percent passed at Southside High, though that is an improvement from the 33 percent that passed last year.

May explained that in addition to passing the graduation exam students must also complete 28 credits worth of classes if they want to graduate.

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Sixteen of these credits are known as the &uot;4 x 4&uot; curriculum. This is because every year students must fulfill a reading, science, math and language credit. Students must also complete a physical education, health, fine arts and computer application requirement along with eight electives to meet their goal of 28 credits.

There are three types of diplomas that students can receive: a standard, advanced or occupational. A standard diploma gives the student more leeway in choosing his or her classes while an advanced one is far more regimented.

The occupational diploma only requires 26 credits because it focuses more on technical application after high school instead of academic.

All three diplomas, though, require that the graduation exam be passed.

But even though teachers and staff are working harder at helping students pass the exam, they are not truly building their classroom instruction around it, says May.

One reason this crossover occurs is that textbook companies are required by the state to write their books so that they correlate to any given course of study, says May. This means that when students study a subject from their textbook they are also studying a subject that will aid them on the graduation exam.

According to May, students with special needs will sometimes use supplemental materials such as software or workbooks to help them study for the exam.

However, there are no core manuals students can use to study for the graduation exam specifically.

The graduation exam occurs four times a year: spring, late summer, October and December.