Caresse Jackman

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Video: Parents and Students Upset Over Graduation Requirements

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- Kadijah Wilkins fought back tears as she recalled finding out she won’t be graduating with her class because she failed one of her state-wide subject tests.

“After spring break, they told us we were going to have a state test and we took that and we got our scores back on May 7th and they told us that we won’t be able to walk with our class. I failed my English exam by one point. I make good grades, my English grade now is a B. I’m a B average student,” said Wilkins.

She’s not alone, Lashanda Johnson’s daughter Jalisha failed her U.S. History Exam.

“She missed just a few points on her history state test and she’s an honor roll student and I feel that it’s wrong. It’s not just with this community in Starkville, it’s statewide and the State testing needs to be stopped,” said Johnson.

The State Department of Education requires High School seniors to pass all of their state accountability exams. Starkville High School Principal Keith Fennell says seniors have to meet those qualifications.

“The state subject area test are the biggest parts of that accountability model. Those subject areas are biology, algebra 1, U.S. History and English 2,” said Fennell.

Fennell says Starkville offers assistance to students who fail the test long before graduation.

“It has to be done throughout the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade years. We try to schedule them accordingly where they have their test available to them prior to their senior year. We’ve provided after school opportunities, we’ve provided in school opportunities,” said Fennell.

LaShonda wishes the State could provide other options that won’t hinder students like her daughter who work so hard to move on to the next level.

“This is ridiculous. And I know a lot of other families are going through this and my heart goes out to them because we are in the same boat. And we’re having a hard time with this. She’s made it this far..and now she can’t do anything,” said Johnson.

Late this afternoon, the Department of Education agreed to one final emergency testing opportunity.

Seniors who have completed all graduation requirements with the exception of passing only one subject area test are eligible.

Effective immediately, district test coordinators can make testing arrangements with the research and curriculum unit at Mississippi State University in Starkville.

It’s first come, first served.

Students are expected to receive their scores within 48 hours of taking the test, and the results will be sent directly to the school district test coordinators.

A passing score, in addition to completing all other state and district requirements for graduation, will qualify the student to participate in commencement exercises.