Between 60 and 80 students in the Kodiak Island Borough School District are eligible, according to KIBSD Superintendent Stewart McDonald.
The students became eligible under House Bill 278, the education bill, which went into effect Tuesday.
Part of the bill repealed the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam, commonly referred to as the exit exam, in all Alaska public schools. Formerly, students had to pass the exam between grades 10 and 12. The tests judged reading, writing and math. Students received a certificate instead of a diploma if they didn’t pass.
Because the exit exam is no longer required, former students who met graduation requirements and received a certificate but did not pass the exam are now eligible to receive diplomas.
In the future, instead of taking the HSGQE, students will take the ACT, SAT or WorkKeys, a job skills assessment test.
None of these can be failed or prohibit a student from graduating.
“The intent to have the high school exit exam was a worthy intention, to say we’re going to raise the bar for what the minimum requirement is,” McDonald said. “But, it was one-size-fits-all that didn’t take into consideration the contribution a student has and all the different kinds of work that’s needed in the society and economy.”
McDonald added that the exit exam has only been around for the past 10 years. Prior to that, it wasn’t required.
“This isn’t a lesser diploma,” McDonald said. “All of these students that will be eligible are students who in fact did meet high school graduation requirements just like anyone before that law.”
HB 278 requires schools to send out notices to the last-known addresses of students who meet the criteria for a retroactive diploma, as well as put information about how to request one on their websites.
KIBSD has already sent notification letters and request forms out to eligible students, and printed their diplomas.
McDonald said that students can come by and pick up their diploma, get it mailed to them, or receive it at a school board meeting and get recognized, if they so choose.
Students whose addresses have changed since they graduated can email email@example.com with the following information: name when certificate was issued, graduation date and school, birth date, current full address, and a contact number. The district will then send a letter and request form. Starting June 7, eligible graduates can contact Kodiak High School at 481-2501 or the rural schools office at 481-6815.
“Technically speaking, a student doesn’t have to come in and get it,” McDonald said. “But they are officially now able to put on any job applications that they have a diploma.”
Contact Julie Herrmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.