Friday, September 5, 2014
A group of former Georgetown County School District students may be getting their high school diplomas soon, thanks to a piece of state legislation.
Under Act 155, which the General Assembly passed in April 2014, students are no longer required to have passed an exit examination to get a high school diploma.
For students who met the credit requirements, but didn’t pass their exams, this is a second chance, according to Patti Hammel, executive director for student performance and federal programs.
“This is an exciting chance for those who don’t test well. It’s an opportunity to get a diploma and seek improvements in their lives,” she said.
Act 155 follows a string of changes to the state high school diploma requirements.
From 1990 to 2000, students had to have 20 credits and have passed the BSAP (Basic Skills Assessment Program) test to receive a diploma.
In 2001 the rules were changed, and students then had to have 24 credits, including a business or computer class, and have passed the HSAP (High School Assessment Program) test.
In 2015, the rules are set to change again. In the interim, the state passed Act 155, which allows all those who met the previous credit requirements, but didn’t pass the BSAP/HSAP, to come forward and get their diplomas too.
The new policy, whenever it is developed, will be for the class of 2015, which means the class of 1990 through 2014 who were denied a diploma because they did not pass an exit exam may petition the school district for a diploma under Act 155.
Hammel explained the process: a student must fill out an application with personal information and obtain a copy of their official high school transcript.
Then after someone in the student services office makes sure the student is eligible, the student’s name will go before the school board for sanction.
Once sanctioned, the list of applicants goes to the state Department of Education, which will issue the diplomas.
The Georgetown County School District board sanctioned its first group of applicants (28 total) at its Sept. 2 meeting.
Eligible applicants will receive a state certified high school diploma, which gives students the ability to apply for federal student aid for college, or apply for jobs that require at least a high school education.
“For them, this is a chance to move forward with any kind of educational setting or job opportunity that they may not have been able to have before. Having this diploma can certainly change their livelihoods, and their lives,” said Hammel.
She said Act 155 “could very much be” a way for some to break out of the poverty cycle.
“Without having a high school education, the jobs are so much less.”
To obtain an application, a student can call Hammel at 843-436-7036, or Amanda Fort at 843-436-7035.
The deadline to apply is Dec. 31, 2015.
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