The year 1978 was a big year for new ideas and events in the world. The Bee Gees’ “Saturday Night Fever” album went #1 for 24 weeks, representatives of Israel and Egypt open talks in Washington, Harriet Tubman was the 1st black woman honored on a US postage stamp, and the US Senate approved the Panama Canal neutrality treaty. However, this was also a big year for Valhalla academics. This was the year that students grades had dropped to a very low level and forced Valhalla to create a new type of test to measure ability.
Here is an article that Saga published in October 12, 1978. This article is more relevant now than ever, with dropping grades and lowering test scores throughout Valhalla. Events such as Freshman SOS are helping raise scores, but perhaps more aid, such as the test created in Valhalla in 1978, should be reinstated.
Will You Graduate?, Kerry Bullock, News Section (Volume V, Issue 1, October 12, 1978.)
Perhaps as many as 500 students in the Grossmont Unions High School District, from the class of 1981, will not receive a high school diploma. This figure is just an estimate, of course, but the Minimum Competency Tests, now required by law may effect that many students, according to Ms. JoAnn Smith, the Freshman Vice-Principal, at Valhalla.
Last year the classes of 1981 and 1982 were given the Minimum Competency Tests in areas of English, reading and math. Students are now required to pass these minimum competencies before they are granted a high school diploma.
The tests were given to all incoming freshman at their junior high schools. These schools include Emerald, Montgomery Middle, Chaparral Middle and Oak Grove Middle Schools. The sophomores took the test at Valhalla.
The law requiring the tests was passed because many students were graduating from high school who couldn’t read, write or do basic math. Ms. Smith feels the tests are here to stay. “Fore the first time ere is a test that tells a student exactly where he/she needs help, you can’t teach a student unless you are aware of what he/she doesn’t know,” said Ms. Smith.
The Valhalla class of 1981 received the highest scores of the district in the areas of English and reading. The class of 1982 received the highest scores in all three areas; English, reading and math. At Valhalla 13% of the incoming freshmen passed all three tests. This is compared to 7% districtwide. Only 35% pass the math. The sophomores has an increase in the areas of English and reading, but they dropped 3% in the area of math.
A course called “Basic Arithmetic” is now offered at Valhalla for all freshmen and sophomores who did not pass the Math Minimum Competency. This is a new class at Valhalla, even though other schools have offered it. This could explain why Valhalla’s math scores were low. Basic Arithmetic is a one semester course and all sophomores who did not pass the competency are urged to sign up for it next semester.
All students who have not passed the competency in the areas of English and reading have been identified to their HUmanities or American Studies teachers. These courses will offer special pilot classes and seminars for these students.
The question is what happens if after four years of high school and you still haven’t passed the Minimum Competency Tests? The answer is simple, you don’t receive a high school diploma, instead you might receive a certificate for attendance. As mentioned earlier, an estimated 500 students in the Grossmont Union High School District, from the class of 1981, will not receive diplomas.
The tests are offered at least twice a year, and you take them as many times as needed. The next test date will be in late December or early January.
Another concern for the class of 1982 is the question of credits. Common COmpetency tests are now being created. These would be required in place of the 200 credits needed to graduate. These tests would be taken in the students junior year.