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HSA tests ensure some accountability

As a member of the graduating class of 2009, I think it is ridiculous that the Maryland State Board of Education may delay making the High School Assessment tests a graduation requirement ("Delay in graduation test requirement is sought," Oct. 24).

While I agree that the tests may be difficult for special-education students and ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) students, this should not be a reason for others to get a free pass.

The state made a critical error by forcing these tests on special-education and ESOL students; these students should be given an exemption from the test. However, the sad fact is that the majority of students who are not passing the tests are perfectly capable of doing so.

In fact, teachers have been taking huge amounts of time away from their curriculum to teach what is on the HSA, and entire weeks of school are rearranged or wasted because of the schedule being shuffled around so that students can take the test a third or fourth time.

Without the HSAs, some schools, eager to boost their graduation rates, will simply push these students through.

While the tests are not perfect, they will ensure some accountability from schools that would rather have high numbers of graduates than high achievers. Joel Beller, Owings Mills

The writer is a senior at Owing Mills High School.

Schools must stop allowing kids to fail

In a society in which we like to point fingers and blame others, I find it ridiculous that some are taking issue with requiring students to pass the High School Assessments ("Delay in graduation test requirement is sought," Oct. 24).

Of course the public school system should test students and make them pass exams in four subjects, particularly English. Just think of all the news stories about kids falling through the cracks and graduating unable to read.

I have looked at the sample HSA tests and the alternative Bridge Plan projects for students who fail the HSA that the Maryland State Department of Education has posted on its Web site, and they are not rocket science.

A kid might need to work hard and study for them, but isn't that what they are supposed to be doing in high school?

Peter Cooke, Baltimore

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