ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Abilene Independent School District (AISD) seniors are anxiously waiting for graduation day. Per Texas requirements, all seniors are required to pass five end-of-course exams in order to graduate. If a student fails a test, they are allowed to do an alternative assignment that can count for two tests.
With new questions and format changes to STAAR testing this school year, the Texas Education Agency is taking extra time to grade exams to ensure every test is graded accurately. What this means for AISD is the district will not receive final test scores until after commencement.
Although the district receives raw scores on May 22, it’s hard to gauge which students met the requirements until they receive preliminary scale scores and performance levels on May 31. However, graduation is set to be on May 26-27.
According to Dr. Ketta Garduno, nine students are at risk of not graduating, but they can’t give a definitive answer until the district receives the scores. Garduno proposed an idea to the school board: To change the FMH local rule that currently states, ‘To be eligible to participate in commencement activities and ceremonies, a student shall meet all state and local graduation requirements, including all applicable state testing’ by adding ‘For the 2022-23 school year only if TEA is unable to deliver before the date of spring commencement ceremony the results from the final spring testing opportunity for a student who has met all other requirements, the student shall be permitted to participate in the spring commencement activities and ceremonies.’
If approved, students in a zone of uncertainty will be able to participate in commencement activities, but they will not receive a diploma on the day of graduation. Once scores arrive and they passed, they can pick up their diploma later. If they failed, they would need to retest in the summer.
“The revision policy we are considering asking the board to consider would allow them to participate in walking across the stage. It would not allow them to graduate because that is a state requirement,” Garduno explained.
Some of the nine students at risk are refugee students, so their parents need to know as soon as possible if they are participating to make travel arrangements.
“The principal of the campus provides a letter to the embassy certifying that those students are graduates. As of right now, we can’t issue any type of letter to the embassy. We can’t tell them whether or not they will graduate,” said Garduno.
As of now, there is no set decision if the students will be able to participate, but Garduno said every student who met the requirements should be able to walk across the stage.
“The parents get to see their students walk across the stage, they will not be graduating at that point, they will simply be participating in commencement exercises. They would not receive a diploma, so the parents still would not know and the students would not know graduation status until after May 31” Garduno added.
The school board will be presented with the proposal once again in April for approval. If approved, the revision will only impact the 2022-2023 school year.