SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. — Graduation ceremonies for the Senior Class of 2020 are uncertain because of COVID-19, but the Tennessee Board of Education announced plans to make some adjustments for students on track to graduate, who need their high school diplomas to move on to college or the workforce.
The State Board held a meeting Tuesday to discuss its emergency plans for graduation requirements and other major changes due to COVID-19.
The preliminary plans give some insight into what will be discussed Thursday when members of the state Board of education will meet to vote on the proposed changes.
State-wide school closures due to COVID-19 are a major stumbling block for the 2019-2020 academic year. The sudden interruption has caused the Tennessee State Board of Education to propose some changes to its policies.
Tuesday board members held a conference call to announce emergency plans to adjust a slew of polices including graduation requirements, grades, teacher licensure and other things.
The board plans to change graduation requirements for seniors on track to graduate this spring. Instead of earning 22 credits to graduate, seniors are only required to complete 20.
ACT and SAT scores will be waived for seniors. Previously the scores were a graduation requirement.
As for a senior who meets the graduation requirements and worries about how the changes will impact their future after high school, the board is offering this assurance.
“We are trying to think creatively about how to assess student learning for the purpose of admissions to some of those other institutions that are for your colleges. I would certainly hope that we will continue to work those things out over the course of the next few months. I have no reason to believe that students will be negatively impacted,” said one board member.
State testing for TCAP will be suspended for one year. Dual credit students can also expect grades to be frozen from the date of March 20. Students will have an opportunity to work on improvement.
“Students find themselves in a variety of situations across the state in terms of their access to online learning. We are allowing districts to improve those student scores, and this is true for college prep classes just like any other traditional class but not go backwards,” a board member said.
Thursday, the board will discuss other plans like the process for local districts to seek approval for additional waivers as a result of COVID-19. If an educator’s license/certification was set to expire, that’s been extended to next year to update qualification.
These are just some of the highlights from that discussion.
The board will vote on the changes at a special called meeting Thursday. Once approved, changes go into effect for 180 days.
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