Graduate or Not Graduate? That Is the Question.

By: Katlin Stansfield

Something is occurring under the radar that every parent of a current high school student should be aware of. Some of you may have heard rumors that the path to high school graduation has changed, but how it changed is unclear. It is a complicated mess of state laws and regulations but I will break it down to its simplest form — how it will affect your student(s).

State law requires that each student take a test in 11th grade to graduate. For the past several years students were required to take tests in Algebra 1 and English Language Arts 10.   A Court recently ruled that giving those two tests when students finished their course work in those subjects did not comply with the state law because they were not administered in 11th grade. After the court ruling, the Murphy administration reached a settlement in the case that grandfathered current juniors and seniors under the old rules, so there would be no disruption to their graduation process.

What they AREN’T telling you is that this created a new problem for freshman and sophomores. This is the case because the settlement calls for a new test to be given to 11th graders.   But — there is no graduation test currently in existence for freshman and sophomores.

Without the ability to use the already given Algebra 1 and ELA 10 test, what options are available? A new test is out of the realm of possibility, at least for classes of 2021 and 2022. It can take upwards of 18-24 months to create a new test, let alone preparing schools for implementation of it. That is not fast enough for freshman and sophomores. So what to do? Use the old test and go back to the days of HSPA, an 8th grade equivalent test? I think not.

Here’s what I think will be done; and this should surely infuriate freshman and sophomores caught up in this policy mess.  I think the state will have no choice but to have students RETAKE the Algebra 1 and ELA 10 test in 11th grade, so it will meet the state law.

Let me repeat that for those in the back.

Freshman and sophomores will take the Algebra 1 and ELA 10 test, not once, but TWICE in their high school career. Unintentionally increasing the amount of testing students will have to take overall– let alone consisting of repetitive content. Imagine having to prepare for a test your junior year that you already took in 9th grade? For no reason other than the state made a hasty decision without considering the ramifications. And now our students will pay for their mistake.

Silver lining? At least they will be well versed in Algebra.

If this is something that will affect your student, you should contact your legislator to voice your concerns. Click here to find your legislator’s contact information. Call or email your opinion and let them know we will not stand for unnecessary testing when there are other solutions to explore. Your child deserves better.