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Georgia Enacts New Law Retroactively Eliminating High School Exit Exams

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law Monday that retroactively eliminates the state's high school graduation test, making it possible for former students who failed the test to get a diploma.  

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that as many as 9,000 students without a high school diploma could now be eligible.

Georgia began requiring a multi-part graduation test in 1994, but ended the practice in 2011. The measure's sponsor said some students with good grades were unable to pass a section of the test and obtain a diploma. Affected former students can now petition their local school board for a diploma. 

Georgia is not alone in reassessing policies that govern high school exit exams.

Earlier this month, the state Board of Education in Mississippi removed requirements that high school seniors must pass four subject-area tests to graduate and gave students an option of using their end-of-course Subject Area Test Program score with their overall course grade to apply for graduation.

Efforts are underway by lawmakers in Texas to allow some students to earn a high school diploma even if they have not passed all five of the state's end-of-course exams typically required for graduation. A measure has passed the state Senate, but has not yet been taken up by the House.

In New York, the Board of Regents is considering letting students graduate by completing advanced coursework or projects instead of taking the Regents exams.

As states roll out new college- and career-readiness standards, researchers at the the New America Foundation have called on states to review their exit exam policies. The foundation reported that, as of last year, 24 states require students to pass state exit exams in various subjects in order to graduate, up from 18 in 2002.

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