The graduating class of 2001 was the first to take the Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) third edition. Students and their parents were informed of the new exam requirement as they entered the ninth grade in the fall of 1997 when they received the Alabama High School Graduation Exam Requirement brochure. However, as a result of the January 13, 2000, State Board resolution, the graduating class of 2001 was not required to pass the mathematics and science subtests. The class of 2002 will have to pass the reading, language, mathematics and science tests to receive a diploma. The class of 2003 will be the first class required to pass all five subjects (reading, language, mathematics, science and social studies). Students have up to six scheduled opportunities to pass the AHSGE before the end of their senior year. In addition, students will have one additional opportunity to take the mathematics subtest if they have successfully completed Algebra I before the tenth grade. Students who successfully complete biology before their sophomore year will also have an additional opportunity to take the science subtest. Once students have passed a subtest, they do not have to retake that portion of the exam.
Students also may continue to take any portion of the exam they have not passed after exiting high school and receive remediation from their school until age 21. To earn an Alabama high school diploma students must pass the minimum number of required courses. This includes at least 24 credits in course work. In addition, students must pass the appropriate subject-area tests of the AHSGE. The exam is based on Alabama's 4x4 curriculum-four years each of required courses of study in English, mathematics, science, and social studies.
WHAT IS THE ALABAMA GRADUATION EXAMINATION PROGRAM?
The Alabama Graduation Examination Program had its beginning with the April 27, 1977, State Board of Education resolution that mandated that the State Superintendent of Education appoint a committee to develop minimum competencies for high school graduation and to establish plans for measuring those. The graduation examination program that grew out of this resolution had as its goal that all skill. Alabama students should have the opportunity to learn the minimum competencies necessary to earn an Alabama high school diploma. There are three editions of the graduation examination. They are as follows:
Alabama High School Graduation Examination, First Edition (AHSGE) Requirement for any student who was a ninth-grader for the first time on or after the 1981-1982 scholastic year (Class of 1985)
High School Basic Skills Exit Exam, Second Edition (Exit Exam) Requirement for any student who was a ninth-grader for the first time on or after the 1989-1990 scholastic year (Class of 1993)
Alabama High School Graduation Exam, Third Edition (AHSGE)- Requirement for any student who was a ninth-grader for the first time on or after the 1997-1998 scholastic year (Class of 2001)
The State Department of Education (SDE) has discontinued the administration of the first edition of the graduation examination. With each new edition, the content of the exam was changed to reflect the increased course requirements for graduation. The third edition is aligned with the course requirements for graduation as adopted by the State Board of Education on April 11, 1996.
WHAT WERE THE STEPS IN DEVELOPING THE AHSGE, THIRD EDITION?
In 1996 the State Board of Education asked the SDE to develop a new graduation examination that would be aligned with new course requirements for graduation. The Test Advisory Committee, composed of educators from all parts of the state, recommended the broad areas to be assessed. In February 1997, the State Board of Education adopted these broad areas.
The Standards and Objectives Committees, composed of teachers representing all parts of the state, using the course of study for each subject area recommended the standards and objectives for reading comprehension, language, mathematics, science, and social studies to be assessed on the AHSGE.
The proposed standards and objectives were submitted for review to subject-area specialists and educators in all local education agencies, institutions of higher education, and state organizations. Their recommendations were reviewed, and the standards and objectives were refined based on these recommendations. The State Board of Education approved the standards and objectives.
The SDE contracted with a testing company to write the test specifications (eligible content) and test questions for each subject area test. The Test Specifications Committees, composed of teachers in the state, reviewed, modified, and approved the test specifications. Using these specifications, the items were written by the testing company for each subject-area test. The Content and Bias Review Committees, composed of educators from all parts of the state, reviewed and revised all test items for content and bias. The Content and Bias Review Committees approved all items before they were piloted. The items for the reading, language, mathematics, and science subject-area tests were piloted during the 1997-98 school year. The items for the social studies subject area test will be piloted during the 1998-99 school year.
WHAT IS THE GENERAL CONTENT OF THE AHSGE?
Reading Comprehension (Reading) Subject-Area Test
The reading subject-area test requires students to read and comprehend articles, poems, editorials, essays, manuals, catalogues, and/or schedules. The reading selections will range from approximately 600-1200 words.
Language Subject-Area Test
The language subject-area test requires students to apply correct grammar and usage, correct capitalization and punctuation, appropriate word choice, correct sentence structure, and appropriate organizational skills for writing/ revising.
Mathematics Subject-Area Test
The mathematics subject-area test requires students to perform basic operations on algebraic expressions, to solve equations and inequalities, to apply concepts related to functions, to apply formulas (while being supplied the formula), to apply graphing techniques, to represent problem situations, and to solve problems involving a variety of algebraic and geometric concepts. A page of formulas will be included in each test booklet. Calculators will be provided for each student, although a calculator is not needed in order to solve the problems. The state-provided calculator is a four-function calculator with percent, +/-, and square root keys. Each key per forms a single function. Approximately 75% of the test is Algebra I content and 25% of the test is pre-geometry content.
Science Subject-Area Test: Biology
The Alabama High School Graduation Exam (AHSGE) in science is specific to the content standards for biology which are found in Alabama Course of Study:Biology.
Social Studies Subject-Area Test
The social studies subject-area test requires students to know content related to the:
Global influence of the pre-colonial and colonial eras of the Western Hemisphere
Formation and development of the United States
Eras of revolution, expansion, and reform prior to the United States Civil War
United States Civil War era
Developments of the late 19th to the early 20th centuries
Causes and effects of World War I
Great Depression and World War II
(This subject-area test will not be a part of the AHSGE until the spring of 2000, Class of 2002.)
WHAT IS THE PRE-GRADUATION EXAMINATION?
Students will take the pre-graduation examination during the spring of Grade 10. The AlabamaHigh School Graduation Exam, Third Edition, is the pre-graduation examination. The pre-graduation examination is intended as a "checkpoint" for students, parents, and teachers so that students' strengths and weaknesses on the content of the AHSGE may be identified. However, should students pass one or more subject-area tests of this examination, they will be given credit toward graduation for passing the subject-area tests.
WHO TAKES THE PRE-GRADUATION EXAMINATION?
Any student who, at the time of the spring administration of the graduation examination, is identified by the school as a tenth-grader and reported as such to the central office in attendance records is eligible to take the pre-graduation examination.
WHEN WILL THE PASSING SCORE FOR EACH SUBJECT-AREA TEST OF THE AHSGE BE ESTABLISHED?
The passing score for reading, language, mathematics, and science subject-area tests will be determined after the spring 2000 administration of the AHSGE. The passing score for the social studies subject-area test will be determined after the spring 2001 administration of the AHSGE. It should be noted that tenth-graders taking the pre-graduation examination in spring 1999 will not know if they passed the reading, language, math, and science subject-area tests until after the passing score is established in spring 2000. Therefore, these students will have to take the reading, language, mathematics, and science subject-area tests of the AHSGE in the spring of 2000. However, if students pass in spring 1999 or spring 2000, they will be given credit for passing either test. Also, tenth -graders taking the social studies subject-area test of the pre-graduation examination in the spring of 2000 will not know if they passed until after the passing score is established in the spring of 2001. Therefore, these students will have to take the social studies subject area test of the AHSGE in spring 2001. However, if students pass in Spring 2000 or spring 2001, they will be given credit toward graduation.
WHO MUST TAKE A GRADUATION EXAMINATION?
Since the spring of 1985, all students who receive an Alabama high school diploma from a public school in Alabama must have passed a graduation examination.
Effective July 1, 1995, all students who enroll in an adult diploma program and receive an Alabama high school diploma from a public school in Alabama must have passed a graduation examination.
DO NON-PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS HAVE TO TAKE A GRADUATION EXAMINATION?
No, however, non-public school students may elect to take the graduation examination. If a non-public school student who is enrolled in a private school wants to take the examination, all eligible students of the private school must take the examination. If non-public school students wish to take the examination, they must register with a local public school and pay a fee to the local public school to take the examination. They must take the examination at an assigned public school location.
WHO MUST TAKE THE AHSGE, THIRD EDITION?
Any student who was a ninth-grader for the first time in the 1997-98 scholastic year will have to pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam which measures the standards and objectives contained in Standards and Objectives (Reading Comprehension, Language, Mathematics, and Science) for Alabama High School Graduation Exam, Bulletin 1997, No. 16.
Any student who was a ninth-grader for the first time on or after the 1998-99 scholastic year will have to pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam which measures the standards and objectives contained in Standards and Objectives (Reading Comprehension, Language, Mathematics, and Science) for Alabama High School Graduation Exam, Bulletin 1997, No. 16, and Standards and Objectives (Social Studies) for Alabama High School Graduation Exam, Bulletin 1998, No. 13.
Effective July 1, 2000, students enrolling in an adult diploma program will have to pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam which measures the standards and objectives contained in Standards and Objectives (Reading Comprehension, Language, Mathematics, and Science) for Alabama High School Graduation Exam, Bulletin 1997, No. 16.
Effective July 1, 2001, students enrolling in an adult diploma program will have to pass the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, which measures the standards and objectives contained in Standards and Objectives (Reading Comprehension, Language, Mathematics, and Science) for Alabama High School Graduation Exam, Bulletin 1997, No. 16, and Standards and Objectives (Social Studies) for Alabama High School Graduation Exam, Bulletin 1998, No. 13.
WHEN WILL THE GRADUATION EXAMINATIONS BE ADMINISTERED?
Students following the normal rate of progression in Grades 9-12 are provided four opportunities to take the AHSGE. These four opportunities are defined as the spring administration in the eleventh grade and the fall, midyear, and spring administrations in the twelfth grade. Students will also have an option to take the AHSGE during the summer between the eleventh and twelfth grades at a site to be determined by the local school system.
The graduation examination will be administered over a five-day period. Tentative dates set aside for administration of the graduation examination are:
Middle to end of September
Beginning to middle of December
Middle to end of March
Middle to end of July (optional opportunity)
Students will take one subject-area test per day as follows:
Friday- Social Studies
The graduation examination is un-timed; however, students may not receive an unreasonable amount of time that would interfere with other school requirements. Each day's testing should be scheduled for approximately three hours, with provisions made for students who need more time.
HOW MANY OPPORTUNITIES WILL A STUDENT HAVE TO TAKE THE TEST AFTER EXITING SCHOOL?
Exited students may continue to take any subject-area test at every regularly scheduled administration for as long as the student wishes to take the subject-area test(s) in order to earn an
Alabama high school diploma.
WHO IS AN ELEVENTH-GRADER?
Any student who is identified by the school as an eleventh-grader and reported as such to the central office in attendance records at the time of the spring administration of the graduation examination is eligible to take the AHSGE.
HOW WILL STUDENTS BE INFORMED ABOUT THE GRADUATION EXAMINATION?
Notification of the Requirement to Pass the Graduation Examination
The graduation examination requirement brochure provides facts pertaining to the graduation examination. All students must receive this brochure when they enter the ninth grade. Parents and students must sign and return the signature portion of the brochure to the high school to indicate that they have received notification of the requirement to pass the graduation examination. Transfer students in the ninth grade or above must receive the same brochure as the students in his/her grade received immediately upon enrollment in the school.
Notification of Test Results
Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are responsible for notifying students and parents of the results of the graduation examination. The SDE will provide LEAs with two copies of the student label, which indicates "Pass" or "Fail" for each subject-area test. One label must be placed in the student's cumulative folder, and the other must be given to the student/parent. If a student fails any subject-area test of the examination, the SDE will provide LEAs with two copies of the individual report. The individual report indicates deficiencies for each subject-area test failed. The LEA must design remediation plans for students utilizing the information provided by the SDE.
WHAT TYPE ITEMS WILL BE ON THE AHSGE, THIRD EDITION?
The test items are multiple-choice with four answer choices. The answer choices for odd numbered items will be A, B, C, and D. The answer choices for even-numbered items will be E, F, G, and H.
HOW MANY TEST QUESTIONS WILL BE ON EACH SUBJECT-AREA TEST?
The number of items on each subject-area test is as follows:
Reading 84 items
Language 100 items
Mathematics 100 items
Science 90 items
Social Studies 100 items
WHAT IF A STUDENT COMPLETES ALL COURSE CREDIT REQUIREMENTS BY THE END OF THE TWELFTH GRADE, BUT STILL HAS NOT PASSED THE GRADUATION EXAMINATION?
A student may elect to return to school for remediation for the graduation examination until the age of 21. The school is responsible for providing the remediation. It is a local decision, however, as to how this remediation will take place. A student may continue to take the graduation examination for an unlimited number of times.
HOW DO STUDENTS PREPARE FOR THE GRADUATION EXAMINATION?
Students will need to master course content as outlined in the Alabama Courses of Study in English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies and to retain the fundamental knowledge learned in those courses.
HOW SHOULD EACH SCHOOL SYSTEM DOCUMENT CURRICULAR AND INSTRUCTIONAL VALIDITY FOR THE AHSGE, THIRD EDITION?
School systems must have a comprehensive plan which specifies that the objectives are taught to students in grades as they progress through school.
In order to ensure curricular and instructional validity, the LEAs must include the following in their plans:
The teaching of the objectives before students are tested.
For any objective with less than 75% of the items correct after the administration of the pre-graduation examination, the re-teaching of these objectives if the student has successfully completed the course, or the scheduling of the student for the course if the student has not successfully completed the course.
The re-teaching of objectives with less than 75% of the items correct on an individual basis after the administration of the graduation examination for students who fail any subject-area test.
To document the teaching of objectives before students are tested on them, LEAs should have their plans organized to include the objectives in their course descriptions, scope and sequences, and lesson plans. The LEAs must be able to document that these objectives are included on classroom tests. Documentation of the teaching and testing of the objectives reflects that students have been given the opportunity to learn these objectives as they progress through the grades.
Teachers have the responsibility for assisting students on any objective on which they have less than 75% of the items correct as indicated on the pre-graduation examination individual reports. These objectives should be emphasized and integrated appropriately in the curriculum. Re-teaching should be guided by Item Specifications. Students who have not mastered a particular objective should be provided appropriate, alternative instructional strategies.
Following each graduation examination administration, any student who fails a subject-area tests must be re-taught any objective with less than 75% of the items correct. This re-teaching must be documented on a forms that includes, but may not be limited to, the following:
The name of the student.
Each objective in each of the subject areas (reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies) where the student did not achieve 75% of the items correct.
Spaces beside each objective where the dates of re-teaching and the initials of the person doing the re-teaching are recorded.
Space for naming activities/materials used in re-teaching.
In addition to the individual documentation form, samples of the student's work including classroom tests must be retained.
For students passing the graduation examination by the end of their twelfth-grade year, documentation must be retained for four years after their graduation. (Example: John Jones has passed the graduation examination, met course credit requirements, and graduated in May 1999. His documentation must be kept on file until 2003.)
For students not passing the graduation examination, documentation must be retained until four years after they successfully complete the graduation examination or until four years following the student's last attempt to pass the graduation examination. (LEAs must also adhere to all other regulations regarding the documentation and retention of records for students of special populations.)