Gwinnett County high school students won’t have to worry about their gateway tests this spring.
The test Gwinnett County students take to show their mastery of some of the subjects taught through the Academic Knowledge and Skills, or AKS, curriculum is being waived this spring as the district continues to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The requirement for seniors to pass the test to receive their high school diploma is also being waived.
“As we look at the work that we’re trying to do to provide safety for our students in the schools, we try to figure out how to get students in and out effectively without the possibility of challenges with COVID,” said Clay Hunter, GCPS’ associate superintendent of curriculum and instructional support, during a presentation to the board Thursday afternoon.
“But the challenges are far greater than we can sort of deal with at (this) time and so I wanted to make you aware of the need that we have to suspend gateway for this year (not only) for our sophomores and juniors, but (also) for our seniors.”
The school board gave district officials a waiver on rules regarding gateway tests in spring 2020 to let the system waive the test while all students learned from home in the early days of the pandemic.
“You may be aware that last year, this board actually provided the opportunity for a waiver because of the safety concerns that we have in the administration of gateway,” Hunter said.
That move also allowed the district to waive the test again later on in the pandemic without getting board approval, if needed.
“(The board) voted to waive a whole group of policies that were impacted by COVID and one of those was the one dealing with gateway,” district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said.
The tests, which have been used in GCPS for about two decades, is a writing test in the areas of social students and science that is normally given to sophomores and juniors in March.
Sophomores take the science test while juniors take the social studies test. They must take the test to receive their high school diploma.
In addition to waiving gateway tests for this year, the district is also looking back to students who struggled with the tests before the pandemic. The waiver also affects students who would have graduated in previous school years but still haven’t passed the test.
These students received a certificate of attendance rather than a high school diploma at the end of their senior years. They were still waiting for an opportunity to take the gateway.
“We have multiple opportunities each year for people to take it,” Roach said.
But, COVID-related issues have prohibited students, who were unable to pass the tests in the past, from taking advantage of the normal testing opportunities.
Hence this spring’s waiver applying to them as well.
“So we’re looking to make sure we also waive the gateway for those students as well,” Hunter said. “In other words, students who have graduated in the past, we were unable to provide that support (so) these students will now be eligible in order to get a high school diploma from Gwinnett County Public Schools.”