Column: GRAD assessments needed for graduationWORTHINGTON — Public school students around the country are in the process of taking state-wide achievement assessments. For the graduating class of 2010, these assessments carry a heavy weight.
By: Tammy Timko and Val Nickel, District 518, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Public school students around the country are in the process of taking state-wide achievement assessments. For the graduating class of 2010, these assessments carry a heavy weight. If these seniors are unable to pass the GRAD (Graduation Required Assessment for Diploma) assessments, they will not receive their high school diploma. As of late February, the Minnesota Department of Education reported that 13 percent of Minnesota seniors had not yet passed the reading test and 3 percent had not passed the writing test, as reported by the Star Tribune. This could leave many Minnesota teens without a high school diploma.
Students start their GRAD assessment testing as freshman with the GRAD Writing assessment. On a scale of 0-5, students must score a 3 or better to receive their diploma.
Sophomore students take a test that combines two assessments (Reading MCA-II and Reading GRAD). Students must pass this assessment by either meeting the MCA-II assessment standards for proficiency or by passing the GRAD portion of the test.
Junior students take a test that combines two assessments (Math MCA-II and Math GRAD). This has proven to be the hardest of the three assessments. More than 40 percent of Minnesota juniors in 2009 did not pass this assessment. The Legislature has delayed the use of this assessment as a measure for graduation. In the meantime, students that have not passed the Math GRAD will need to show that they participated in some form of math remediation and attempted at least two retests.
If a student does not pass one or more of these assessments, the student and his/her parents are notified of opportunities for remedial instruction and retest dates. If you have questions about this process, please contact the school office.
The state has made some exceptions possible for special education and English language learner (ELL) students. Special education students, through the IEP (Individual Education Plan) process, may be able to pass the assessments with a reduced score. If you have questions about this process for your child, contact the school office or your child’s case manager. In addition, ELL students that have been in a Minnesota school for fewer than four years may graduate without passing the GRAD assessments as long as they have met all other district requirements for graduation.
District 518 has worked hard to make sure that all seniors that are on track to graduate receive their diploma. At the time of this printing, 2.5 percent of the seniors still need to pass the GRAD Reading and/or Writing assessment in order to receive their diploma.
Tammy Timko is coordinator of teaching and learning in District 518, while Val Nickel is a district administrative assistant.