Governor signs bill today enabling 9,000 Georgians to receive high school diploma

UPDATE: Nathan Deal signed the bill. Again, if you are affected, contact your school district for details.

According to the new law, an affected student “may petition the local board of education in which he or she was last enrolled to determine the student’s eligibility to receive a high school diploma pursuant to this Code section based on the graduation requirements in effect when the student first entered ninth grade. Once the local board of education confers a diploma upon a student meeting such requirements, the local board shall transmit to the Georgia Department of Education in accordance with department procedures the number of diplomas awarded. The local board  of education may date the high school diploma on the date the student graduated or the date the diploma was conferred.

Original blog:

A delighted House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth will be on hand at noon today when Gov. Nathan Deal signs House Bill 91, which retroactively grants high school diplomas to an estimated 9,000 Georgians who did not earn one because they failed a portion of the now discarded Georgia High School Graduation Test.

The House Ed Committee allowed ex members to vote on a critical measure this week. Jason Getz / AJC

Today, the governor signs a bill enabling 9,000 Georgians to qualify for their high school diplomas.  Jason Getz / AJC

Coleman sponsored HB 91 bill, saying it would be the most important piece of legislation his committee passed this year.

The test dates to 1991, when the Legislature voted to phase in an exit exam that would put some teeth into the rising rhetoric of holding students accountable for basic academic achievement. But the exam was eventually deemed inadequate and was replaced by the End of Course Test (which is being replaced this year by Georgia Milestones).

There was also doubt the test meant anything in terms of what students learned or didn’t learn in high school.

In its own study of the value of the Georgia High School Graduation Test in predicting how high school graduates would perform in college, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement found, “Students who score higher on the High School Graduation Test have roughly the same college GPA as students who scored much lower.”

Failure on the test dimmed the futures of many students who could not move ahead in jobs or attend college.  While the state Board of Education could grant a waiver, the criteria were stringent – hardship or disability — and most requests were denied.

DOE retired the test with the class that began high school in 2011. It is unfair now, said Coleman, to tell parents, “Yes, your child has to pass a test that is no longer required.”

When I wrote about this bill earlier in the legislative session, two views emerged:

The high school graduation test was considered a basic skills test, and students had multiple chances to take it and pass it. That so many students could not ought to alarm us.

But since there is no real evidence passing the test meant anything, why hold young Georgians and their futures hostage to a meaningless score?

If you or your child falls into this category, you ought to contact your school system.

Also on hand for the bill signing will be Hall County Superintendent William Schofield who sent out this statement:

This is a life changer for thousands of Georgians!  Consider:

  • Graduation Test requirement went into effect in 1994 and was not replaced until the past 2-3 years.
  • The Hall County School District alone presents 40-60 requests per year for waivers of the GHSGT, perhaps half have been approved.  Additionally, most students in this situation do not request this option.
  • I estimate in Hall County alone, 1,500-2,000 students over the past 20 years have met all requirements to graduate, with the exception of passing 1 or more sections of the GHSGT.
  • A week does not go by that we don’t receive a phone call, visit, e-mail, or in person visit from someone 19-35 years old pleading for any hope to exempt a section of the test, receive their diploma, and get on with their lives.

This is long overdue, and yet another example of a practice that had unintended consequences effecting thousands of Georgians. I thank Representative Coleman and his colleagues that championed this legislation.

The Hall County School District will be putting together a plan to disseminate this information and create a support system to educate effected individuals regarding potential educational and career options.

 

Reader Comments 0

63 comments
K_Stu
K_Stu

As someone who honestly worked my butt off to get through school and having to go to 5 different high schools, in 2 different states (one of which did not have a graduation test) due to an unfortunate upbringing, I'm very thankful they are offering this opportunity. The only test I could not pass was the history test. I took it the first time mid senior year, after not taking a history class in over year. Then took it a second time at the end of the year. It was not my strongest subject as I honestly didn't feel like I was going to use it in my future. (That was the mind of my 16 year old self...) Now 7 years later I'm having to explain to the college I'm trying to enroll in what exactly a certificate of performance is and why the only thing from preventing me from a diploma is a history graduation test. Math and numbers are my strong suit and I am trying to pursue an accounting degree, but the lack of a diploma and and the ability to take a Georgia History Graduaion test, as I don't live in the state anymore, makes it a bit difficult. So here's to hopping I can get the help I need to pursue my future and not be held back.

jerryeads
jerryeads

JB, Astro's just a helpful reminder of the rampant bigotry still endemic to the state. My guess is he's still bitter from not being able to pass the GHSGT :-).

Cheers to Brooks. High-stakes low-bid poorly made minimum competency tests with totally arbitrarily chosen (it's called the "modified Angoff technique) passing scores have absolutely nothing to do with post-high school success EXCEPT for the denial of a diploma. For the most part, we've simply (finally) removed a meaningless barrier that did nothing more than guarantee higher jobless and welfare rates.

Astropig
Astropig

@jerryeads 

Well, Jerry, your bitterness at losing again spills right onto the page. Bitterness,my friend, is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die.

That's why it's so much fun to see you people put in your place by the people of this state.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Astopig your attacks on public educators should be removed...they are very personal to many fine teachers in GEORGIA.

DisgruntledEmployee
DisgruntledEmployee

Will the points that schools lost on their CCRPI scores for graduation rate be factored again now that this bill passed? If a school has a CCRPI score of 58 these points may make the difference between getting OSDed.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@DisgruntledEmployee No, the law does not allow the new diplomas to be counted. 

The bill states: 

Students receiving diplomas pursuant to this Code section shall not be counted as graduates in the graduation rate calculations for affected schools and school systems, either retroactively or in current or future calculations.

DisgruntledEmployee
DisgruntledEmployee

@MaureenDowney That sounds about right. Throw out a test deemed invalid yet still penalize the schools because the students didn't pass them. Sounds like a set-up.

popacorn
popacorn

BTW, good use of the word 'enabling' in the headline. I get it. 

popacorn
popacorn

We really don't need links to any other blogs on here, Maureen. No matter the amount of butt-kissing. We are here to read yours. Especially when we have been pummeled with said babbling already.

Astropig
Astropig

@popacorn


Amen and amen. It's annoying to wade through all of the spammy junk placed here by one particular person promoting her nonsensical ramblings in other places. A lot of this persons postings are just designed to glom onto the audience here and send them away,so how does the business office at the AJC feel about that?

You may not like Pops or Eduk8ter or me,but we don't use your blog to promote our blog,so how about cracking the whip a little bit here?  

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Starik 


Thanks, Starik.  I am sure that all readers know that no one is required to "hit" my personal educational blog links. Some readers do read my blog's links, however, so  I am glad to have shared my educational experiences with those readers. Sounds like petty jealousies at work, to me.

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

Can't speak for other schools, but I know a lot of the students from our school were SpEd students who really did NOT have the basic skills needed for high school.  They might have "passed" their classes, but sometimes the grades were given to them, because they tried, and at some point we knew the GHSGT would "catch" them anyway.  


Of course, now we have EOCs, but students don't have to pass those to get credit for the course. So if the SpEd teacher grades the student on "effort" or "ability," they'll get credit for the course even if they bomb the EOC.  


And it's not that I have anything against SpEd students or students who lack basic skills. But if a diploma is supposed to signify a certain level of achievement, rather than just 12 or more years of attendance (which is the problem the GHSGT was created to address), we're moving backwards.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@ScienceTeacher671  "But if a diploma is supposed to signify a certain level of achievement, rather than just 12 or more years of attendance (which is the problem the GHSGT was created to address), we're moving backwards."


AMEN!  I, for one, believe that a diploma is supposed to signify a certain level of achievement.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

TO MAUREEN DOWNEY:


I could write you a personal e-mail but I wanted to thank you publicly for your outstanding commentary in today's paper AJC (which I just got around to reading), entitled, "Opportunity knocks?"


For those who have not read Ms. Downey's impacting and beautifully expressed column, here is her last paragraph:


"I used to believe a school could be the sole beacon amid the blight, that it could lead everyone out of the darkness.  Now, I realize schools can't light the way alone.  Rebuilding schools begins with rebuilding communities."


You have spoken truth to the masses, Ms. Downey.  I will pray that they will listen.  Thank you for your voice.



EdUktr
EdUktr

@MaryElizabethSings

No, she's just parroting the education bureaucracy's latest excuse for failing our nation's children.

Hoping to ward off accountability and parental choice.

Starik
Starik

Will these people be getting a diploma from the State or from their old high school?  Will there be some sort of marker, like Diploma Without Passing the Test?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Starik  "Will there be some sort of marker, like Diploma Without Passing the Test?"


You only wish - like a SPED Diploma, or an attendance diploma.  No, these will look just like yours and mine.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Here is the one entry on my blog, which if you read, Class80olddog, as well as (1) read the sub-links to additional entries on my blog which I have incorporated within this link and (2) those links presented by Wordpress at the end of this essay, you may be more fully informed as to why this bill - turned into state law - has now given these particular students educational justice, finally.


Thanking Maureen Downey, in advance, for this indulgence of my link to my blog's educational entry, on her blog.



https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/use-an-educational-model-not-a-business-model-for-public-education/


class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings  I quote from your article:

"Each student’s potential must be maximized all along an instructional continuum, years k – 12, and perhaps even into the secondary years of 13 and 14 for some students to achieve, realistically, the minimum standards for a high school diploma. "


It sounds like you DO support minimum standards for a diploma, rather than "just give it to them".  "Educational justice" , as you like to put it, might be the ability to go back to school and EARN their diploma, rather than have it GIVEN to them.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 


Of course, I support minimum standards for a diploma.  This was also part of my essay:


"Schools are not businesses and schools should not attempt to incorporate a business model to achieve excellence. Students and teachers are multi-faceted human beings, not ‘products’ to be manipulated for a simple, one-dimensional end result."


That means that the assessment criteria at that time for these students could have been faulty and that they DID deserve a high school diploma THEN.  Educators, even within the DOE, are capable of creating faulty instruments for assessment.


Please read all of the content in all of my links and you may start to perceive of student growth and high school diplomas awarded with more depth.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog  It sounds like we are CLOSE to being on the same page.  The problem is: what assessment do you use to determine if a student has met the "minimum standards for a diploma".  I do not agree with using teachers' grades.  What would YOU use?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 


Again, you do not think like an educator, but like a businessman.  There is not a single instrument which will give you what you are seeking. The more we educate the public as to the real educational principles of how students learn effectively, then the more qualified students you will inherit in the business world once they have achieved their high school diplomas, whether it takes 12, or 13, or 14 years to master the content, individually.


Here is a concept, as a businessman, which I know you will understand:


"You get what you pay for."  The public school systems in Georgia have been cut in funding by 4 billion dollars in the last decade.  That is no way to guarantee an excellent "product" of qualified graduates.


The business model is hurting education by demanding rigid expectations all along the k - 12 continuum for all students at the same time, thereby insuring high school drop outs and teachers that must "play the business model game" to keep their jobs.


Best to start letting educators have more say to legislators than corporate CEOs now have, and best to start trusting those educators who are TRAINED in knowledge as to what needs to be done and let them do it, as educators, not as business men and women.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog  "You get what you pay for."


Like the $90 hammers for the Army? You have to have oversight.  Money does NOT always buy more and better.  It is how much money and WHAT YOU SPEND IT ON.  More administration does not give better educated students.  Paying $2.5 million in legal fees to keep a school system from being annexed will not help education one bit.


You refuse to answer about the standards for graduation, which, to my mind, means "whatever you like" - very subjective. 


We, as businessmen, cannot ship a product and say "well, we thought it looked good to us" - our customers won't accept it.  And, yes, I see students as a product of the educational system - and we have to have quality standards.  Let the substandard ones end up in the outlet malls at reduced prices.  If we pay top dollar for HS graduates, we want our money's worth. 


That is why I say that I eventually see businesses resorting to doing pre-employment education testing of their own - since we cannot rely on the State for good standards. It will be just as ubiquitous as pre-employment drug screening.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog  "You get what you pay for."


We are paying FOUR TIMES (400%) what we spent per student in the sixties.  Are we getting four times the education?  I don't think so. Despite the small cuts in the last ten years (which are now being restored), we still are spending A LOT on education and not getting much return.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 


Your mind is made up.  There is no getting you off of your point of view. That is why at first I decided not to answer your musings, again.  Whatever I said would elude your understanding, I believed.  You have confirmed it.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog  Yes, I would call my mind made up.  But I do enjoy listening to your opinions.  Even if we are totally different, at least you argue with some reasoning.  Better than a lot on here. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Quidocetdiscit @class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings 

"And that does not even begin to touch on the VAST amount of money that is being spent on the whole testing craze!  BILLIONS that could be better spent on classroom equipment and support."


Remember that we would not need testing if teachers' grades were accurately indicative of mastery of the subject matter (as was the case in the sixties).

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings


"Are we getting four times the education? "


In some ways you are.... when I was in school, we did not have art classes, or music classes. We did not have computers for students, or interactive white boards.  We did not have special playground equipment, or math manipulatives or one on one aides.  We did not have school nurses or school counselors, or vice principals or para-pros.  Many of the students I work with in through special ed inclusion would never have been enrolled in regular schools -certainly our "severe and profound" students would not.  When I was in school, we all knew the one student who could not read - now we have whole classes for students who need remedial or supported instruction because the number of students with special needs in traditional schools has increased.   


As more an more of he burden for "raising" children falls onto schools, the more schools have to offer in services.  More mobility means fewer extended families.  More working mothers, single parents, or parents having to work two jobs to get by  means less time to spend on children at home.  Schools are struggling to take up the slack.  


It is easy to say, "Well, why do we need all those things when we didn't have them in the sixties and we did just fine!"  But this isn't the "sixties" and the needs of students and expectations of parents have changed.  In the past, slow learners  or troubled students would have been left to languish in the back of the room till they dropped out.  Today we have programs in place to help support them.   If a child were to have an allergy attack at school and there was no school nurse, and the child died there would likely be litigation these days.  If a child fell off the swings onto hard concrete because the swings were not above special soft fiber turf, there would likely be litigation. If a child was sent out of the room for disruption as was the case in the past, but there was no para-pro to watch them and the child ran home, there would likely be litigation.  Kids at my neighborhood school used to walk home for lunch, then return.  These days?  Are you kidding! Now we practically have to keep them  tethered  to us.  It is unrealistic to just say, "The parents need to step up to the plate" because they parents AREN'T doing it,. Some of them can't.  Some of them do not know how, and some of them simply won't. 


And that does not even begin to touch on the VAST amount of money that is being spent on the whole testing craze!  BILLIONS that could be better spent on classroom equipment and support.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@ScienceTeacher671 


Also, our nation and state have gone from being segregated by race to an integrated society, including the integration of its schools.  It is too bad that more cannot have compassion, instead of criticism, because of this societal change that we are all part of.  It will take generations, more, to fully make up for what the repression of slavery, Jim Crow, and a segregated United States have done to America's minority citizens.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I guess this is a historic occasion when MaryElizabethSings and Governor Deal and the Republicans are all on the same side.


I am on the OTHER side.

class80olddog
class80olddog

Trophies for everyone. Diplomas for everyone.  Drivers licenses for everyone.  Doctor's licenses for everyone.  Precious snowflakes will never hear that awful word FAIL (until they apply for a job and get turned down).


No competition (that is BAD) , no profit (that is BAD), no Zeroes (that is BAD).  Sounds like we are becoming what the USSR aspired to be.  All people the same. All Equal. From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs (welfare moms with six kids NEED a lot).


The failure of America.  No war needed.  We do it to ourselves.


Send those jobs overseas - at least they get educated over there.  Here, we don't care what a diploma is.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog


Try thinking with depth and detail, not in gross generalities, and you might get some measure of understanding of the education of our young.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog  All just words!  Depth and detail!  Give a diploma to someone who cannot demonstrate mastery of the subject matter?  There are options for special cases.  Education of our young - start with mastery of the basics - this is 6th grade stuff - I don't think the GHSGT covered advanced algebra.


Why did the legislature vote in the GHSGT in the first place?  Might it be because of the specter of HS diploma holders who could not read or write or do simple arithmetic?


So what prevents those people from getting a diploma now? NOTHING!


You just feel sorry for everyone and want everyone to succeed, even if they did not.  Fine. Just send your people on down to our company - just don't be surprised when they end up on the unemployment line where others find good jobs.


You can deny reality all you want, but you cannot deny the EFFECTS of reality.

class80olddog
class80olddog

How can you ever judge what a person has learned in high school?  Now you cannot even use the SAT, since it has been changed to allow guessing.  So a person with a 1300 today is not the same as a person scoring 1300 in 1976.

class80olddog
class80olddog

What is a High School Diploma - is it a record that you spent four years in a high school setting?  Or does it mean that you learned some minimal amount?  If the latter, how do you determine how much a person has learned?  Do you accept teachers' grades that are known to be inaccurate (person with 3.6 GPA cannot pass GHSGT)? 


There was a time when a HS diploma meant something (that was back when a teacher would FAIL you if you did not learn the basic minimum in a class). 


What does a HS diploma mean today?  What is the minimum that a student can do and still come away with a diploma?

BehindEnemyLines
BehindEnemyLines

Further devaluing an already questionable high school diploma.  Obviously it's reason to celebrate, we've got find some way to make those snowflakes feel precious doggone it.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@BehindEnemyLines  Wait until those "precious snowflakes" hit the workforce.  Then they are gonna melt really quickly under the heat of reality!

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog @BehindEnemyLines  Let me say this to everyone on this blog - I AM NOT AN EDUCATOR.  That means I know nothing about schools (other than having attended school, having had four kids in schools, having been a businessman who deals with the aftereffects of our school system). I KNOW NOTHING AND I AM NOT ENTITLED TO AN OPINION SINCE I AM NOT PART OF THE EDUACRACY!


I AM, however, a citizen and a voter and how I vote depends on how politicians deal with issues that are important to me - such as education.  I know you would like to take that right away from me - that I should have no say in any education issues, but you can't.


I would like to know what "educational principals" they teach in "education college" that says that all students deserve a diploma, even if they have not learned anything.  Please enlighten me.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog  I welcome their evaluation of my opinion.  If everyone on here thinks I am wrong about requiring HS diploma recipients to pass a test of basic knowledge, they can speak up.  So far, I am seeing agreement with my position.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 


This is not a popularity contest of the blind leading the blind.  I will now explore my blog for a link which may enlighten you and others.  I am not reinventing the wheel for you again.  Perhaps, Ms. Downey will be gracious enough, once more, to allow me to post that link for the educational enlightenment of readers.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog @BehindEnemyLines


Are you an educator?  If so, please share how many years, your subject areas, and grade levels.  Were you ever in educational leadership?  If not, your posts indicate that you need to do a lot more studying of educational principles.  You can learn somewhat by reading my blog.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 


I don't want to take away any of your rights to speak your own mind.  But, in speaking your own mind, others will assess what you have to say as well as the caliber of your opinions.

class80olddog
class80olddog

"But since there is no real evidence passing the test meant anything, why hold young Georgians and their futures hostage to a meaningless score? "


Of course passing the test meant something - it meant that you had at least learned a minimal amount in school.  To us business people - it gave us slightly more confidence that a diploma actually meant something - now we do not even have that.  How else are you going to argue that a diploma is not just an attendance record (and not even a good one of those)?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I want to commend both Brooks Coleman and Governor Deal for seeing that this bill was passed and signed into law.


It is never too late to right a wrong, especially a wrong done to these children of Georgia.


I respect and appreciate what you have done here.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@class80olddog 


Add on to my above sentence, ". . .previously, many, many times, over."


You should have taken more seriously what I was trying to teach others about continuous progress of individual students, related to time of mastery, previously.  I am not going to reinvent that wheel again.  The bill is now law, as it should be, in order for educational justice to be served these particular students.


"Our ignorance (of educational principles) was not bliss (for those students)."

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

@MaryElizabethSings @class80olddog "The bill is now law, as it should be, in order for educational justice to be served these particular students."

Yet another example of why, whenever I hear "justice", "fairness", or "equity" used in a political setting, I grab hold of my wallet.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings  How were they wronged - they failed to pass a test of VERY basic skills.  All of my kids referred to this test as "ridiculously easy".  They should NOT get a high school diploma.  If they wish an alternative, then get a GED - but you have to take a test for THAT, too, and they could not pass that.


So why EXACTLY do these people deserve a diploma?  Or do you want the diploma to mean NOTHING?