School not over for 10 DeKalb seniors who thought they graduated

Ten students who were not eligible to graduate participated in graduation exercises for Lakeside High School. It was not known until after the ceremony took place that they had actually failed.

DeKalb C0unty School District spokesman Quinn Hudson said Thursday he was told the 10 students failed economics after Georgia Milestones test scores were factored into their grades. Milestones scores, by law, count as 20 percent of a student’s final grade.

Hudson initially said Thursday he was told there were three students who learned they did not graduate after Georgia Milestones scores were reported.

District officials said the 10 students were told they needed to enroll in summer school and retake the test to have a chance of earning a diploma before college begins in the fall. Five are taking the course through the DeKalb Online Academy.

The students were among 208 students inadvertently given paper exams, he said. Of those, 93 students needed to perform well on the exams to guarantee graduation. State Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza said the expectation was that seniors would take the online version of the test so results would be ready by graduation.

Cardoza said test results were posted online for the district on May 23. Lakeside seniors participated in graduation exercises on May 21.

A letter was sent home with seniors ahead of graduation informing parents of the foul-up. District officials held meetings at the school with concerned parents as well.

“If the scores come back after the commencement exercises and the student does not pass the class, the student will have to attend summer school and retake the EOC during the summer to earn a high school diploma,” read a letter parents received notifying them of the testing issue.

Georgia Milestones testing has come under fire this year with districts across the state reporting problems with taking the tests as state officials try to move the test online. Some had bandwidth issues. Others were randomly logged out of the state system, losing any unsaved work. Locally, some districts had incompatibility issues with the state testing system.

State officials reported that 7 percent of test sessions were disrupted for various reasons, but were not able to say how many students were affected. Students from third through eighth grade take nine sessions of the test. Nearly half of them did so on a computer. State officials have said they plan to work with school administrators and their technology staff to avoid future problems.

The Georgia Board of Education is allowing schools to waive test results in decisions about holding younger students back a grade. Some districts have done so, while others have decided to retest students who failed. Cobb County school officials have said the district will not retest students because of delays in getting Milestones results.

Last year, testing endured disruptions after a test vendor’s online screen reader failed repeatedly. That vendor was docked pay by the state.