Gwinnett public schools to waive a graduation requirement

Students from Gwinnett County high schools react after they moved their tassels during 2019 Gwinnett County Public Schools summer school graduation at Infinite Energy Arena on July 3, 2019. The school district has suspended the requirement that students pass the Gateway exams to receive diplomas. HYOSUB SHIN / HYOSUB.SHIN@AJC.COM
Students from Gwinnett County high schools react after they moved their tassels during 2019 Gwinnett County Public Schools summer school graduation at Infinite Energy Arena on July 3, 2019. The school district has suspended the requirement that students pass the Gateway exams to receive diplomas. HYOSUB SHIN / HYOSUB.SHIN@AJC.COM

Gwinnett County Public Schools canceled the Gateway exams this year and waived the requirement that this year’s seniors must pass them to graduate high school, Associate Superintendent Clay Hunter told the school board on Thursday.

The Gateway tests are essay exams that ask sophomores to write about science and juniors to write about social studies topics. Students who fail can retake the tests. Gwinnett developed the Gateway as a graduation requirement in addition to state standardized tests.

The school district also plans to notify about 1,300 alumni who never passed the Gateway that they’re now eligible for diplomas instead of the certificates of attendance they graduated with. That list dates back to the class of 2002, said Sloan Roach, school district spokeswoman.

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The district is not able to administer the tests safely during the coronavirus pandemic, Hunter said.

“The challenges are far greater than we can sort of deal with at this time,” he said.

Due to the pandemic, Gwinnett has not been able to offer academic help this year to students who failed the Gateway, as the district has done in the past, Hunter said.

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