Houston County students can test out of classes under new policy

jmink@macon.comAugust 19, 2013 

PERRY -- Students can test their way out of some classes under a new state policy, which the Houston County school board recently adopted.

Students can automatically earn class credit by exceeding expectations on a statewide exam. High school students must pass an end-of-course test to get credit for certain classes, but now students can opt to take that test before taking the class.

If they make a high score, they can skip the class.

Still, a student can earn no more than three class credits that way. Also, if they do not make a good enough score and must take the class, parents or students must pay for the cost of administering the exam, according to a district document.

If they pass, students’ exam scores will be converted to determine what grade they receive for the courses.

“If they score in the ‘exceeds’ range, they can get course credit for that class without taking the class,” said Cindy Flesher, assistant superintendent for school operations. “That could mean students could graduate early if they take advantage of that.”

Additionally, the board just approved policies on restraining students and dealing with student-athlete concussions. The policies are simply new state regulations, which Houston County schools already were practicing, Flesher said.

Employees are prohibited from using medication and seclusion to restrain unruly students. The policy also bans mechanical restraints -- devices that restrict movement and cannot easily be removed by the student -- and the process of putting the student face down on the floor.

Physical restraint is allowed on a limited basis -- when people are in danger due to the student’s behavior, and the student does not respond to less intense directions.

Employees also are allowed to enforce time out, detention and in-school suspension, and students can request to be moved to another location to get his or her behavior under control.

Another new policy deals with sports and concussions. Coaches cannot allow students who have suffered concussions to play until they are cleared by a health care provider.

Any student who has concussion symptoms must be removed from the activity and examined, the policy states.

“We need to make sure we provide for the safety of our students,” board Chairwoman Marianne Melnick said during a board meeting.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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