Some Fort Worth 8th-graders who participated in promotion ceremonies on Friday learned they failed a state assessment test and may not advance to high school after all.
"It doesn't mean anything,” said Danielle Collins, holding her son Christen’s 8th-grade diploma from The Leadership Academy at Forest Oak Middle School. “This is just a piece of paper. And I think it's just wrong."
Collins said she and her family were proud when they watched Christen, 14, march across the graduation stage.
"Oh it was lovely, it was so nice,” she said. “All the kids, they looked nice, they were dressed up, everybody was excited about going to high school."
Then, on Saturday morning, she got a voice-mail from a school counselor.
Turns out the second week of May, Christen had failed the STAAR test, which all Texas 5th- and 8th-graders are required to pass to advance to the next grade.
Now, he'll have to go to a summer review session, take the test again, and pass it to go on to high school.
"My heart just jumped,” his mother said. “I was just, tears. I was hurt. After this, I just said, I just can't stand this anymore."
Christen’s classmates, twins Kaman and Kameron Johnson, thought they graduated Friday too.
Their mother just got the same bad news.
"My whole issue is you had my kids walk across the stage,” Latasha Johnson said. “If they weren't going to graduate or go to the next level, we shouldn't have went to no ceremony."
A spokesman for Fort Worth Independent School District said the state didn’t send the STAAR results until 5:45 p.m. Friday and that administrators did everything they could to get the message to parents.
"While I agree the notification was a little bit late, it's not Fort Worth ISD's fault,” spokesman Clint Bond said. “We notified them as soon as we could after we received them from TEA. But it's not like parents didn't know that something was amiss."
That's because this was the second time around for the students, after they also failed the test earlier in the year.
The district said it notified parents about the entire process and they should have known that passing the STAAR test was necessary to graduate.
But the parents said they had no idea and didn’t learn of the second test results until now.
"And now I have to go home and explain to my boys that they have to go to summer school,” Latasha Johnson said.
Lauren Callahan, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, said the dates of the testing and the results have been posted online for months.
“Keep in mind how a district schedules its calendar is up to the district,” she said.
It was not clear if the same issue may have affected fifth-graders who also took the test and must pass to advance to sixth-grade.
Spokespeople for the Dallas and Arlington school districts said they have not experienced similar problems.