Keep graduation exam in perspective

Posted: Wednesday, March 01, 2000

In just a few short days, Alaskan 10th graders will take the new High School Graduation Qualifying Exam for the first time. This event is an important step for our state. It ushers in a new era of achievement and accountability for all of the students and all the schools in Alaska.

As our sophomores look ahead to taking the exam, I urge students and parents to keep the exam in perspective. Many students will do just fine and some will fall short. Those who fall short will have many opportunities to retake the exam. Moreover, many of our schools will offer special courses to help them pass the test the next time.

How can parents help? Here are a number of things to do:

Parents should take a few minutes to learn about the goals and benefits of the Quality Schools Initiative. The high school exam is just one part of this initiative, which is designed to bring high standards, accountability and high achievement to our schools. As I have said to many audiences across our state in recent months, QSI is our single best opportunity to improve our schools. How so? For the first time ever high standards, accountability and new resources have come together to propel our schools forward.

Parents should discourage their children from ``cramming.'' The skills needed to pass the exam are years in the making. This is not an exam one can cram for in one evening.

Parents should make sure their children get a good night's sleep the night before the exam and a full breakfast the next morning.

Parents should support their children and encourage them to do their best. Parents are role models. If parents express negative ideas about the exam, chances are your children will too. Any concerns about the exam should first be relayed to educators in your local school district or to the staff at the state Department of Education and Early Development.

I believe that the ultimate success of the Quality Schools Initiative and the High School Qualifying Exam will have more to do with how the adults of our state handle themselves than how our children perform. We have heard time and again that parents want high standards, accountability, high-achieving students and excellent schools. Gov. Knowles, the Legislature and hundreds of Alaskans designed the Quality Schools Initiative to answer that need. Parents and educators across the state are coming together to support the Quality Schools initiative. I hope you will, too.

Richard S. CrossCommissionerDepartment of Education and Early Development

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