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Posted: February 20, 2014 2:12 p.m.

NCSS graduation dates to stay the same

Newton County’s three high schools will hold graduations on the dates originally scheduled—May 23 and May 24 — now that the State Board of Education has approved a resolution giving local school districts the flexibility to determine if students must make-up missed instructional days due to weather.

At Tuesday’s Newton County Board of Education meeting, the Board voted to add three days to the end of the school year to allow for a change in the state testing schedule. By adding the three days, the district was able to change the school system’s Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) and End- of- Course-Tests (EOCT) dates by adjusting the testing administration window. This change allows students additional instructional days after Spring Break prior to these very important tests.

The only complication in this plan was whether or not seniors would be required to attend school on the three days added to the end of the school year.

Had the State School Board not approved the resolution giving school systems flexibility, Newton County seniors would have been required to attend the three last days of school, meaning graduation would have to have been rescheduled the following weekend—after May 27, 28 and 29.

With the flexibility resolution now approved, Newton County Schools will forgive the three last days of instruction for high school seniors only.

Graduations as previously scheduled at Springfield Baptist Church will be held Friday, May 23 at 8 p.m. for Alcovy High School; and Saturday, May 24 at 9 a.m. for Newton High School and 3 p.m. for Eastside High School.

“We are glad to announce that the State Board of Education approved the resolution,” said NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “I know parents of seniors were concerned about changing the dates of graduation, and we were as well. We all understood that families may have made plans based on the original graduation dates, and we definitely did not want to change the dates if we were not required to do so. We appreciate the State Board of Education giving this flexibility to school systems.”

Fuhrey added that she knew some would question why the district did not just forgive all of the days for all of the students.

“I know that question has been asked and will continually be asked,” she said. “Our job is to do what is in the best interest of our students. When we discovered that the state would allow us to change the dates of our CRCT and EOCT administration window, we knew, given the options under consideration, that adjusting the testing window was the most instructionally sound decision we could make. Our original schedule had some students taking these tests as soon as they returned from Spring Break. With students having missed seven days of instruction, we identified a solution that would add instructional days prior to the assessments to compensate for the lost instructional time for teachers and students. These tests determine, in some cases, whether a student moves to the next grade level and in others the results account for a very significant amount of a student’s grade. We couldn’t change the original test dates and provide the additional instructional time without adding the three additional days to the end of the school year. When considering the many options to make-up lost school days due to inclement weather, this solution was the most instructionally sound choice. We will always make decisions based on what is best for our students academically. ”

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