by Carina Leaman, Sean Reihm, and Jamie Mason
This year is the last year sophomores will sit through three days of reading, writing, and mathematics in the fall with futures hanging in the balance.
Governor Nikki Haley has signed a bill effectively ending the use of the HSAP–the High School Assessment Program–as the exit exam for high school students looking to graduate with their diploma. Next year, the decades long program will simply no longer exist.
According to assistant principal Dr. Chris Lempesis, the program began when students were being passed through high school simply for behaving and doing as they were told, not for learning what they needed to. Originally called the Exit Exam, sophomore students have been taking the test since 1978.
It’s unsure why Governor Haley decided to suddenly cut the program.
“[Governor Haley] most likely thought it was too easy, and it wasn’t a good enough assessment of high schooler’s growth,” junior Savannah Dale said.
But according to Seanna Adcox of “The Post and Courier,” the issue was the inability of certain students of passing the HSAP, restricting them from their futures simply because of one test score.
With such an easy assessment, this seems unlikely.
“It does determine whether you can do simple math, and whether you can read really on an elementary level,” Dr. Lempesis said.
If a parent or guardian is concerned that the test is unfair towards his or her child there is a document of requirements for an alternative assessment on ed.sc.gov, and if he or she fulfills the requirements he or she will not be required to take the HSAP. Accommodations may also be made for taking the HSAP itself.
For most students, the test is rudimentary. But while the math and reading sections are often deemed as simple by most students, the writing section threw off some.
“It was pretty easy, the first part, but the writing kind of was a weird topic,” sophomore Tiaz Odom said.
To replace the HSAP, students will take two tests instead of the one.
“The law specifies one will be ACT’s WorkKeys, a work-skills assessment system that awards certificates for qualifying scores, from bronze to platinum, which students can take to employers,” Adcox said in an article for The State newspaper. “The other will test for college readiness. That specific test hasn’t been picked yet.”
Some students believe the HSAP should remain a requirement to graduate.
“Students should have to pass [the HSAP] to graduate because although it is easy, it is based on the minimum requirements students should have after graduating.” Savannah said.
But with the vast number of tests students are required to take throughout their high school careers, the HSAP could also be deemed pointless.
“Because it’s a lot of other tests that we take that’s practically sort of the same thing, so it’s kind of pointless to have one more,” Tiaz said.
Despite the HSAP’s termination, it’s essential that some sort of test is required for students to graduate high school. If not, the diploma will lose its meaning.
“Well, we need something. I’m not saying we need to simply have the HSAP we have today,” Dr. Lempesis said. “I think we need something that tells someone that you did more than just attend school 180 days for four years.”