COVINGTON -- Newton County high school students will take a series of tests next week that determine if they will graduate from high school.
Starting Monday and continuing until Thursday, all 11th-grade students in the Newton County School System will take the tests for the first time. Also taking the tests are those students who have previously failed one or more portions of the test or older students who have not yet taken the test.
The state Department of Education requires students to pass each portion of the test, which includes the subject areas of English/language arts, math, social studies and science, as well as the Georgia High School Writing Assessment that was given to 11th-graders for the first time in the fall.
Students must receive a minimum score of 200 in ELA, science and social studies to pass the test, and they must receive a score of 500 to pass the math test.
On Monday, NCSS students will take the science portion of the test, on Tuesday the math section, on Wednesday English/Language Arts and on Thursday social studies. Friday will serve as a makeup day for all subjects.
Students should be able to complete each section of the test in 60 to 90 minutes but have up to three hours to complete each section.
Dr. Carl Skinner, director of Testing, Research and Evaluation, said students should bring at least two No. 2 pencils and a calculator. Items not allowed include scratch paper, graphing calculators, text storing devices, cell phones, correction fluid, dictionaries and other possible aides.
Although students have been preparing for the tests by taking and passing their content core courses throughout their years in school, they can get some extra review by using the study guides from the Georgia DOE. They are available at www.doe.k12.ga.us under the Georgia High School Graduation Tests link.
"Start reviewing -- the tests are based on course work taken throughout high school until spring of their junior year. Most students need to refresh their minds in regards to learning from past years," Skinner said. "Students should, as always, practice good testing strategies, get plenty of rest (and) eat a good breakfast."
He said families also can help their students by possibly reprioritizing chores and other responsibilities during the testing week.
Results are expected to arrive in the schools during the week of May 7, and electronic results should be available by mid-April, Skinner said.
The next makeup days are tentatively scheduled for July 12 and 13. Students will have other opportunities to retest during the next school year in September, November and March.
"Students should, providing they stay on track and take advantage of every opportunity, have up to five opportunities to take and/or retake any portions of the test, if necessary, before the end of their 12th-grade year," Skinner said.