State Graduation Tests Put Hundreds Of Tulsa Area Seniors In Jeopardy
SAND SPRINGS, Oklahoma - Lots of local school districts are warning of a rise in high school dropouts. The Class of 2012 are the first seniors that must pass the state's mandatory exams to get a diploma.
The superintendents say 6,000 Oklahoma students may not graduate because of it. Locally, hundreds of seniors are in jeopardy. Administrators say they would have graduated under last year's requirements.
Katie Beard has already passed three End of Instruction, or EOI, tests. She's worried about the fourth.
"I just recently took my English test and found out today I did not pass that," Beard said.
Under the Achieving Classroom Excellence initiative, Oklahoma students must pass the Algebra I and English II tests and any two others from this list.
Katie juggles her studies with classes at Tulsa Technology Center and a daycare job to help pay bills. She hopes to pass the Geometry exam in April to graduate.
"I'm going to be an early childhood teacher and I've already got my Master Teacher Certificate and if I was to not get my diploma, it would pretty much ruin what I have going for me," she said.
Jessie McNutt wants to be a Marine. He needs to pass three more tests after failing the Algebra I exam by one question.
"Oh man, but kind of a good feeling at the same time because I've never gotten that close," McNutt said.
Jessie has thought about dropping out, but pushed through and now he's frustrated.
"I've been in school for 13 years and now these tests are here and if I don't get those out of the way, I don't get to graduate," he said.
Five percent of Sand Springs seniors are in jeopardy of not graduating. Some are now parents, some are homeless, and some are former dropouts.
Looking at nearby districts, 10 percent of Tulsa seniors haven't passed the tests, 7 percent at Jenks, 5 percent at Union and 5 percent at Broken Arrow.
"If we label these children high school dropouts after these efforts, there's a grand possibility that they will not be contributors to society because they won't have the option to be," said Lori Kerns, Sand Springs Asst. Superintendent.
Students who do not pass the tests can enroll as fifth year seniors and only study for the exams or try to get their GED.
There is an effort in the legislature to possibly provide some other options to the end of instruction test requirements.
The State Department of Education says we have to prepare students to be competitive in the job market and if a student passes a class but not the test, then they weren't truly prepared.
A spokesperson for Oklahoma State Super Superintendent Janet Barresi released the following statement:
"Superintendent Barresi believes strongly that Oklahoma should honor the hard work of parents, students and educators who have worked so hard to meet the requirements of ACE. Oklahoma made a commitment by passing this bipartisan reform 7 years ago, and the state should honor its commitment. Oklahoma cannot lower the bar for earning a high school diploma and at the same time tell students they are still prepared for life after high school. Rolling back ACE would leave students to find out soon enough that they really were not prepared and that their diploma will not help them pass college and military entrance exams, or to get a good job in a competitive economy. Backing away from ACE will place Oklahoma students at a competitive disadvantage to their peers in other states and around the world."