School Board exemption allows nine students to graduate
Nine seniors will graduate with their class, thanks to action from the Hanover School Board Tuesday.
Meeting June 11, the School Board backed an exception for nine senior students, who are in the Individualized Education Program, or IEP, with their temporary approval of a revised School Board policy allowing those students to receive verified credits in SOL-tested courses.
“Nine students need our support,” said Robert Hundley Jr., Chickahominy District board member.
The board voted unanimously in favor of the revision to the graduation and SOL requirements, which the state had already put into place as of early May.
The revised policy would allow IEP students to receive locally verified credits in the same manner as non-IEP students.
Students who take an SOL twice and cannot achieve a 400 on the test but otherwise pass the course can qualify for verified credit. The students must receive a score between 375-399 after taking the exam twice. Students must also have their “academic progress” reviewed in order to prove their mastery and academic knowledge of a course. Once students fit the criteria, they are eligible for verified credit.
“It sort of levels the playing field for these students who for some other reason might not be able to show the mastery on the SOLs test to the levels of 400,” said Dr. Daryl Chesley, assistant superintendent for instructional leadership.
The policy would allow IEP students to obtain a standard diploma instead of a modified diploma, Chesley said, adding it would help both the student and their school.
Not all of the board members completely supported the policy revision. Ashland district board member Henry “Hank” Lowry, Beaverdam district member John Axselle III, and Mechanicsville board member, Glenn Millican, did not agree with all of the policy.
“We’re fighting symptom, not sickness,” said Lowry.
Lowry added, “Real life doesn’t work like that. What we’re saying is if you don’t get a 400 [on the SOL] but you get 375 twice and we like you and you’re doing okay, we’re gonna pass you.”
Lowry said a major problem is the SOL system. “We need to fight the SOL system,” he said.
Axselle pointed out that the SOL tests require the minimum. Axselle said he did not understand why students wouldn’t pass the SOLs if they have the knowledge, skills and understanding of the content and show mastery of the course in forms other than the SOLs.
Millican said he is not fond of the regulation and regards the policy as “gaming the system.”
However Hundley, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jamelle Wilson, Chair Ann Gladstone, of the South Anna District, and Chelsey reminded board members that approval of the policy revisions would immediately help the nine students.
Although the board did approve this measure for these students, the exception is set to expire August 13. The board will further discuss this regulation and its future on second reading.