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Mississippi Department of Education considers alternate routes to high school diplomas

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Educational leaders in Mississippi are considering alternate ways for students to earn their high school diplomas if they failed a state test. Educational leaders in Mississippi are considering alternate ways for students to earn their high school diplomas if they failed a state test.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

Educational leaders in Mississippi are considering alternate ways for students to earn their high school diplomas if they failed a state test.

The Mississippi Department of Education has laid out seven options for Mississippi high school seniors to receive their diplomas, but that's only if they have already failed one or more subject area tests. For the past ten years, students have been required to pass four state tests to graduate- Algebra I, English II, Biology I and U.S. history. But if the board approves this policy, the test scores that don't look too good could be replaced.

"Any opportunity a student has is helpful," says Hattiesburg School District Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment Teresa Merwin.

Merwin says that 10 percent of seniors at Hattiesburg High School did not pass their state tests last year, but she believes this new policy may decrease that percentage in the future.

"Of that ten percent, there were quite a few who- had this been in place- may have been successful at walking at graduation," says Merwin.

The seven possible options are as follows:

  • Score a 16 or higher on the ACT in the corresponding subject area, with reading substituted for U.S. history
  • Earn a C or higher in a dual-enrollment program for the particular subject area
  • Score a 2 (out of 5) or higher from the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Exams
  • Score a minimum of 43 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
  • Score a 36 or higher on the ASVAB in addition to a passing score on a state vocation test or approved industry certification
  • Earn a silver or higher certificate on the ACT Work Keys, paired with the state vocation test or industry certification

 While the options are plenty in Mississippi when compared to other states, critics say it is a disservice to the education system. The P describes a score of 2 as "possibly qualified" for college credit. A score of 2 on the IB exam is described as "poor."

But Merwin says it is still good to give students options.

"Just because you're providing more options to a student doesn't mean that you're dumbing it down," she says.

The board of education is seeking public input on this proposal and will vote again in January to take into account any recommended changes.

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