COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System is preparing for changes in graduation requirements for next school year.
Earlier this year, the state approved a plan to phase out Georgia High School Graduation Tests. Instead, more focus will be put on End of Course Tests.
Samantha Fuhrey, director of Secondary Education at NCSS, said the system will follow the state's "phase in, phase out" plan over the next few years.
"This is a statewide move to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards," she said about the upcoming change in state curriculum. "We plan to follow the state's lead."
The Georgia Department of Education requires students to pass each of the five graduation tests, which include the subject areas of English/language arts, math, social studies and science that are given to 11th-graders for the first time each spring, as well as the Georgia High School Writing Test that is given to 11th-graders for the first time each fall.
Students who do not pass tests the first time can retake the them as many times as they prefer and are given several opportunities throughout the school year and summer to retake the tests. All students must pass all portions of the test in order to receive a diploma in the state of Georgia.
Next school year, those rules will begin to change for some students.
"We will provide parents and students with timely information and support relative to the changes," Fuhrey said.
There will be a three-year transition period in which both tests will count in some way for graduation requirements.
"Depending upon the students' date of entry into high school, the impact is different," Fuhrey said.
State School Superintendent John Barge said Georgia has been trying to eliminate the state graduation tests for more than a decade. He said the end-of-course tests are better indicators of how much a student has learned.
For the 2011-12 school year, ninth-grade students will take EOCTs that will count for 20 percent of their course grades and must pass the GHSWT, while 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders will have EOCT grades count for 15 percent of their course grades and must pass one EOCT in each of the four content areas or pass the corresponding subject of the GHSGT; they also must pass the GHSWT, according to the new state rules.
For the 2012-13 school year, ninth- and 10th-graders must pass the GHSWT, and EOCT grades will count for 20 percent of their course grades, while 11th- and 12th-graders have the same rules as the year before.
For the 2013-14 school year, 11th-graders will be added to the group that has EOCT grades count for 20 percent of their course grades while still passing the GHSWT, and seniors will continue to follow the previous year's rules.
In the 2014-15 school year, seniors -- or those students who will be ninth-grade students next school year -- must pass the GHSWT and have EOCT grades count for 20 percent of their course grades. But things will change again for younger students -- ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders that year will undergo Common Core Assessment Implementation in language arts and math under the state's new curriculum, and EOCT in science and social studies will count for 20 percent of their course grades.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.