• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 1s

High school exit exam leaves some students behind

By Alexis Fernandez 10:05 PM March 4, 2014

School counselors weigh in on high school exit exam debate

ANCHORAGE – To test or not to test? That’s the question being debated in high schools across Alaska, including at East High School.

As state lawmakers debate whether to eliminate the high school exit exam, some school counselors are weighing in.

“There isn’t a significant benefit except for kids that pass it,” said Scott Henry, an ELL counselor at East High School.

Henry says he sees the downside of the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE) firsthand.

“It’s really tragic to see kids that work really, really, really hard for three or four years once they get here, to be one or two points away,” Henry said.

He says the group being left behind, is the English Language Learner (ELL) students.

“If a student comes here when they’re 16 or 17 — and they’re brand new to the country and brand new to the language, the reality of them passing those tests is low,” Henry said.

According to Henry, out of the nearly 500 students who graduated from East last year, 50 failed the test and didn’t get a diploma. Instead they got a Certificate of Achievement.

He says although it’s a small percentage, these students will eventually impact the future workforce.

“They aren’t able to get into college, and even with the military, only some branches are accepting a certificate of attendance,” he continued.

According to Alaska Department of Education, the exit exam went into effect in 2004.

Since then, 2,388 students have received a certificate instead of a diploma. Last year, 364 were given — 132 of those were ELL students.

Here in Anchorage, 108 certificates were given out last year, about three percent of the graduating class.

Henry says the current culture of testing is hurting students, rather than helping.

“Not having it tied to whether they get a diploma, that might be a much more functional approach than having this hard line that says if you can’t pass it, you don’t earn a diploma,” Henry said.

But not everyone agrees. David Nees, a retired Anchorage School District teacher of 25 years, says the exam serves a purpose.

“It lets the public know that when you have a high school degree, that you actually are kind of competent, in reading, writing and mathematics,” Nees said.

And believes it needs to stay.

“It’s the only measurement that we have right now that actually meaures mastery in something,” he said.

Two very different answers to a complicated debate that is far from over.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Diversity a theme at Walker transition conference in Anchorage

    by Shannon Ballard on Nov 22, 18:42

    It would be easy to have a closed-door discussion about the critical issues that face Alaska, but Gov.-elect Bill Walker says the conversation should belong to all Alaskans. “We get the best input the more people we have involved in the process,” said Walker. There is some risk associated with doing that. The bigger risk […]

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Nov. 22

    by KTVA Weather on Nov 22, 18:20

    Clouds have invaded our space for the weekend with little moisture here in the Anchorage area. Daytime highs remain in the mid 30s with light winds as we head into Saturday night. Sunday brings more of the same conditions with increasing clouds across the Bowl. We’ll remain under this dry spell going into Thanksgiving. Sunshine […]

  • Sports

    UAA volleyball signs 2 Dimond players

    by KTVA Sports on Nov 22, 18:02

    A pair of Dimond Lynx are heading to the level of volleyball, but the trip is a short one.

  • News

    Government Hill gives back, continues holiday tradition for one resident

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 22, 17:02

      Putting up Christmas lights and decorations is a holiday tradition for Government Hill resident Jeff Fowler. “It started when we lived on the south end of town,” said Fowler. “One at a time, started buying them and when we moved here, new and more stuff just started showing up.“ Over the years, the grand […]

  • News

    Obama highlights Sitka School District’s efforts in technology

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 22, 13:00

    This week, the Sitka School District got a shout-out from President Barack Obama. Superintendent of Sitka Schools Mary Wegner was in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, joining more than 100 superintendents from across the country gathered together at the White House for the ConnectED to the Future conference. The day-long event recognized some of the nation’s […]

  • News

    Fairbanks prisoner accused of soliciting murder

    by Associated Press on Nov 22, 12:01

    An imprisoned former chiropractor and gun dealer from Fairbanks has been accused of attempting to solicit the murder of federal officers while behind bars. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://goo.gl/VVMn92 ) reports Guy Christopher Mannino, 56, has been in prison since Oct. 2013 awaiting sentencing for federal weapons charges. The office of the U.S. Attorney says […]

  • News

    Alaska Gov.-elect Walker names full transition team

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 22, 11:47

    Gov.-elect Bill Walker has taken his first big step towards taking over the helm of outgoing Gov. Sean Parnell. Walker kicked off his transition conference Friday night at the Alaska Airlines Center. There, about 300 people showed up to hear the incoming administration’s overview of Alaska’s current financial situation. Walker was blunt in his address, saying […]

  • News

    5,000 toys to be delivered to tots around Alaska

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 22, 11:06

    Alaska Airlines and the U.S. Marines are getting into the holiday spirit and children around Alaska are reaping the benefits. Friday, Marines delivered nearly 5,000 toys to the airline’s cargo hanger to be shipped out to children across the state. As part of their annual Toys for Tots program, all of the gifts were donated […]