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Newton high schoolers to take graduation tests next week

COVINGTON -- Even though high school graduation tests are being phased out of Georgia schools, students still are taking the tests this year to determine if they can graduate.

Starting Monday and continuing until Thursday, select Newton County students will take the Georgia High School Graduation Tests.

In the past, all 11th-grade students were required to take the tests for the first time in the spring.

This year, the test will be administered to students who are classified as 11th-graders who have never taken the GHSGT or who lack a passing score on at least one of the corresponding content area End of Course Tests, students who have taken but not passed the GHSGT and who lack a passing score on at least one of the corresponding content area EOCTs and students classified as 12th-graders who have not yet taken the GHSGT and are required to do so, as well as some other students who classify to take it.

"A lot of students meet graduation requirements and don't have to take the (tests)," said Dr. Carl Skinner, director of Testing, Research and Evaluation at NCSS.

He said a list of students will be posted at the high schools.

In the past, the state Department of Education has required high school students to pass each of the tests, which include 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 in the fall.

For the 2011-12 school year, new state graduation rules require that ninth-grade students take the EOCT that will count for 20 percent of their course grades and pass the GHSWT, while 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders will have the EOCT 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.

On Monday, students will take the science portion of the test, on Tuesday the math section, on Wednesday social studies and on Thursday English language arts. Friday will serve as a makeup day for all subjects.

Students have up to three hours to complete each test, Skinner said.

They are permitted to use calculators on the math and science portions of the test and may use rulers or another straightedge for the social studies test.

Study guides are available on the Georgia DOE website, www.doe.k12.ga.us.

Results are expected by early May, Skinner said.

"We want the student to try to do their best," he said.

Summer retest opportunities are scheduled for July 16 through 18.

Next school year, ninth and 10th graders must pass the GHSWT, and EOCT 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 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 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.