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Gwinnett County School System drops Gateway Exams as graduation requirement for now

The school system said the decision was based, at least in part, on the lack of help available for students retaking the exam amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Georgia’s largest school district is doing away with a usually very important exam this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Gwinnett County School District reports that students won’t be required to take the Gateway Exams for 2021 to graduate. The exams are normally taken in the sophomore and junior years. Those who don’t pass are given extra help before trying again to pass.

But that extra help has not been available this year.

In addition, the district said another 1,300 alumni who didn’t pass the exam are now eligible to receive their diplomas instead of certificates of attendance. Gateway exams are essay tests that students take in addition to the state’s standardized tests.

Gwinnett, however, is not alone in the move. At the national level, NBC News reports that The College Board announced it would be ending the option essay section and subject-specific exams from the SAT for college-bound students in the United States. 

The organization said it was moving in that direction already but was “accelerated” by the COVID-19 pandemic.