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Standardized Tests May Be Holding Students Back

By Daniel Cherry | Published 21 Mar 2011 10:39am | comments

Some school districts in Mississippi are seeing up to 46 percent of high school seniors at risk of being unable to get their diploma. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports standardized tests may hold some students back.

Statewide over three thousand high school seniors have failed to pass one or more portions of the state required standardized exams. Kevin Gilbert, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, says he doesn't think it's fair for one test to keep a student from graduating.

"Because you didn't succeed on this standardized test you can't get your diploma, and now if you don't pass the test you're forced into a situation where you've put in four years making decent grades but can't pass this standardized test and now you've got to go get a GED."

Students have multiple chances to pass the exams, but Gilbert says many give up after a few tries. Then they're counted as a dropout. Superintendent of the Hollandale School District, James Johnson says that's why he wants his teachers actively tracking down at risk students.

"They're making contact, physical contact with those students that we know need to pass the test. Hey you need to be in tutoring today. Because the test is only two weeks away we need to be able to work on those skills that you need to be successful."

Many argue standardized tests are a disadvantage to some students who don't test well. Vice Chair of the Senate Education Committee Gray Tollison agrees the tests aren't perfect. But he says the state has to find a long term solution to the problem instead of just passing students.

"They're not backing off the test in other states. They're not backing off the tests in other countries. There's something that just came out that in math and science the United States is like 25th if anything we need to be raising the standards."

Tollison says it's the best benchmark the state has for determining areas needing improvement. Students wishing to participate in graduation ceremonies will have to pass their exams in April. Daniel Cherry...MPB News. 

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