The Madison County school board voted Tuesday to require that all high school students first pass all graduation tests before they can walk across the stage at graduation.

Though county schools superintendent Dr. Mitch McGhee said this proposal was “not without controversy” when presented to the school board in December, the new requirement passed with virtually no turbulence.

The BOE heard no public comment over the matter, and the central office received just two responses against the policy in the past month.

McGhee also noted that the majority of teachers at the high school endorsed the new rule.

“The high school folks hope this will help our pass rate for the high school graduation test,” McGhee said, adding that there’s data to support an increase in scores.

A student who fails the graduation tests can take the exams indefinitely, but only the first attempt counts toward Madison County’s graduation rate.

Graduation rate is one of the criteria used to assess high schools under No Child Left Behind.

The new policy will take effect when this year’s sophomores are seniors.

The school system’s current policy allows those fulfilling all coursework but failing the graduation test to receive a certificate of participation at graduation, but no diploma.

Madison County isn’t the first opting to tighten requirements in that area.

Oglethorpe and Clarke Counties have already adopted this rule. Franklin County school leaders voted it in this year. Jackson County is considering it.

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