Should TAKS Exit Failures Walk Graduation Night?

At least 51 Nacogdoches High School seniors will not be allowed to walk the stage on graduation night. That is unless the Nacogdoches school board has a change of heart.   Thursday night board members will receive the TAK's Exit level results. They'll also hear from parents and community members who want the rules amended.

Right now Nacogdoches High School students who do not pass their courses and/or pass the exit exam are not allowed to walk the stage with their graduating class. Board member Almarie Henderson wants to let students participate in graduation if they pass their courses. They'll be given a certificate of completion and receive the high school diploma if they pass the Exit test this summer.   Many school districts, including Lufkin have adopted the more lenient rule.

The class of 2007 may be the last graduating class to take the controversial TAKS Exit test. State lawmakers are now battling over the assessment's future.

Even the brightest students and leaders are torn over NISD's graduation. Scholarship and award recipients in Nacogdoches worked for their achievements.  "It was hard work. A lot of struggle through a lot of classes," said valedictorian Anna Lehmann.

Yet for the majority of them, TAKS was no problem. For some, tests come second nature. The valedictorian wants everyone to participate in graduation night, but believes a student has to earn the privilege.  "I think it's unfair to not let them walk at all, to not have that opportunity to graduate with their class, but it's also unfair to the kids who did what they're supposed to when they were given multiple, multiple chances to pass that test."

Principal Dennis Williams represents all levels of students. He sees first hand the student who successfully passes courses, but struggles with TAKS, even with extensive tutoring and lots of hard work and effort.  "I' m torn. The reason I'm torn on it because I hate to see any child that works hard and not being able to go to the next level. Any time a child hurts, I hurt. And on the other other side of that coin there are laws. "

Rules are rules and recognition will always go to the high achiever, and rightfully so. More than $2.5 million in scholarships were earned. Williams praised the recipients, but spoke directly to the underclassman.   "Sometimes we don't realize what our very best is, so I was trying to remind the younger high school students, make sure they apply themselves every day."

Anna Lehmann's day came with one more assignment. She now has a speech to write. Overall she's very proud of the class of 2007. "I think we're a very strong academic class and I think definitely you'll be seeing us as the leaders of tomorrow." And among them will be leaders who will influence future rules on how students will be assessed on what they learn.