COVINGTON - High school juniors will take a test this week that will help determine if they will be ready to graduate in more than a year from now.
All 11th-grade students in the state are expected to take the Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test for the first time Wednesday. Students who previously have failed the test also are allowed to take a retest during this period.
To receive a high school diploma from a Georgia public school, students must pass this writing test, as well as four other Georgia High School Graduation Tests in the subjects of English/language arts, math, science and social studies, which are given to first-time 11th-grade students in late March.
Newton and Rockdale County public school system officials have told students to take the writing test, as well as other state-required graduation tests, seriously.
"Students should approach this test with a positive attitude, knowing that there have been many opportunities to practice their writing skills prior to the testing date," said Dr. Kathy Reese, director of high school curriculum at the Newton County School System. "It is extremely important that students get a good night's rest, eat a nutritious breakfast and arrive early that day."
Reese said students have taken writing practices and teachers have provided feedback to students who need improvement in order to prepare for the test. Students also have had the opportunity to attend after-school tutoring or practice on computer software programs if they feel unprepared.
"Students can practice writing daily outside of the school setting," she said. "Specific feedback from a teacher and/or parent is important, however, in order for the student to recognize where improvement can be made."
Students will have 100 minutes to take the writing test, which includes generating an idea on a persuasive topic that will be given when they begin the test, organizing thoughts, writing a draft and revising the draft to write the final essay.
Students are scored on four qualities of effective writing: ideas, organization, style and conventions. They should expect to receive their results within six to eight weeks from the test date, Reese said. Students who are late to the test or miss the test Wednesday will be allowed to take a makeup test Thursday. Those students who miss the test or fail the test this week will have another opportunity to take a retest in the spring, as well as the summer and next fall.
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SideBar: At A Glance
What: Georgia High School Graduation Writing Test
Who: First-time 11th- graders and others who have failed the test
When: During the school day Wednesday, makeup Thursday
Where: At the students' respective schools