State ends End of Course tests for some students

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Local high school students may have fewer exams on their plates in the coming semesters. The state Department of Education eliminated End of Course tests for students in most dual-enrollment courses last week.

Through Georgia’s Move on When Ready program, students can fulfill graduation requirements and earn college credit simultaneously when they take post-secondary courses. Previously, these students still were required to take Georgia Milestones End of Course tests on those subjects, on top of their college finals. Their scores on the EOC counted for 20 percent of their high school class grades, and the other 80 percent came from their college grades, said Monroe County Superintendent Mike Hickman.

Now, students in dual-enrollment classes will be exempt from a core exam, as long as they pass and get college credit for it. The only exceptions are ninth-grade literature and composition, algebra 1, coordinate algebra and biology, which are required for all students by federal mandate, according to the state Department of Education.

‘That’s a good thing’

“Once you take one final in a class, it’s frustrating to have to come back and take another assessment,” Hickman said. “For our kids, (the ruling) means one less test, and that’s a good thing.”

The EOCs were assessing students on things they may not have been taught in their college classes, said Eric Payne, Houston County assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. For example, a high school economics classes would teach both micro and macro economics, but a college may teach them in separate courses, Peach County High School Principal Al Pollard said. So, students taking economics off campus sometimes didn’t score as well on the EOC test.

“I think (the ruling is) a good thing,” Payne said. “It reduces the number of state-mandated assessments that students have to take, and it does allow students more flexibility. Those courses that are taught at college don’t necessarily mirror the standards that we’re teaching and that are assessed on the EOCs.”

The state is saying that a second exam isn’t necessary, because a student who has passed a college course should have mastered that subject, Pollard said. Plus, it makes sense for the school and teacher who taught the subject to also give exam. Otherwise, the test is trying to measure another institution’s teaching methods.

“Quite frankly, if I’m going to test somebody, I’d rather have my teachers teach it. If they take the course off campus, I’m in full support of (eliminating the EOC) because we’re not the ones who taught them.”

Dual-enrollment in Middle Georgia

The dual-enrollment program allows students the opportunity to move forward with their education, Hickman said. Some teens are more independent and benefit from being able to go off campus for courses, while others do better at their own schools. Some would rather have a mix of off-campus and on-campus experiences.

Houston County students are enrolled in courses at all the local colleges and universities. Payne said many of the teens take introductory, college-level English, math and science.

Between 40 and 50 Peach County High students take dual-credit classes each semester, Pollard said. Most drive off campus for their classes, but Central Georgia Technical College professors come to the high school to teach classes like welding, criminal justice, child development and cosmetology.

At Mary Persons High School in Monroe County, 75 to 80 students take advantage of dual-enrollment. The school offers transportation to nearby Gordon State College, or students can drive to other universities or take classes online, Hickman said. Georgia Technical College brings some classes, including in nursing, to Mary Persons High.

Hickman and Pollard both said many students spend half their days on a college campus and the rest at their high schools.