Since 1995, Georgia high school students have had to pass Georgia High School Graduation Tests (GHSGT) to receive a high school diploma. in the 2011-2012, the GHSGT will begin to be phased out and replaced by end-of-course tests.
Currently, students take the Georgia High School Graduation Tests in the areas of science, social studies, English, and math, as well as the Georgia High School Writing Test. High school juniors take the tests, giving them time to study and retake the exams by the time they graduate as seniors. Students who cannot pass the tests by graduation but have met all other requirements can earn a Certificate of Performance or a Special Education Certificate. They can retake the exams as often as necessary to earn a regular high school diploma. In spite of the many chances to pass, the GHSGT have been criticized because of relatively low pass rates (73.7% statewide), the obstacles they create for graduation, and the cumulative nature of the tests.
Starting in school year 2011-2012, the GHSGT will be phased out in favor of end-of-course tests. Current sophomores and juniors can still take the GHSGT or pass end-of-course tests in the same subject areas and the Georgia High School Writing Test. Freshmen and all future students will take the end-of-course tests and the Georgia High School Writing Test only. Students with disabilities and English Language Learners can receive accommodations when they take the exams. No longer will students have to pass the tests to graduate; instead, the end-of-course tests will be worth 20% of the course grade.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Barge, Georgia School Superintendent, says end-of-course exams are considered better than cumulative tests in assessing student performance and course effectiveness. He says the change will make graduation achievable for students who don't test well.