School Daze

SCHOOL DAZE….James Joyner reminds me today of this story, which I meant to link to a couple of days ago but didn’t: Bridget Green, the valedictorian of Alcee Fortier Senior High School in Louisiana, failed to graduate because she couldn’t pass the high school graduation exam.

The nickel version of the story is that she received an A in her Algebra 2 class and top grades in the rest of her subjects, but failed the math portion of the graduation test. You can check out sample questions from the test here.

This is all bad enough ? how could someone who failed a 10th grade level math test get an A in algebra? ? but I’d like to focus on one other aspect of this affair. Here are a couple of quotes from the Times-Picayune story:

Principal Harvey Cyrus: “I was shocked. I just can’t understand it.”

Karen Alexander, Green’s guardian: “How were we to know that anything was wrong, that she wasn’t going to pass this test?”

Now, Alexander’s point is well taken: if Green was getting high grades, how could they have known she was failing?

Well, here’s how: she had already failed the math portion of the graduation exam four times, including once earlier in the year when she was getting those As. When she failed again in June, it was her fifth time. So here you have a girl who, despite being one of the brightest students in the school, had failed a math test that requires only a 35% score to pass. That should have alerted both her teachers and her family that something was wrong.

There’s not much question that something was seriously amiss with the grades Green received in her algebra class, but there’s also something amiss with the fact that her guardian seemingly didn’t realize there was a problem. So while I’m more than willing to join in the chorus of condemnation aimed at the school, I’m disturbed that parents are so often let off the hook in these kinds of stories. Every teacher I know says parent participation is one of the most critical aspects of school success, and it strikes me that Green’s family may bear a share of the blame here.

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