The Alabama State Board of Education's decision to do away with the high school graduation exam is making a big impact. FOX54's Breken Terry found one Shoals family wishing the state would have made the decision sooner.
Students struggling with the exam are breathing a sigh of relief, but for Houston Darnell, the decision to end the exam came a little too late. He said, "It stressed me out until the point that I wanted to leave high school. I didn't wanna be around it anymore. I didn't want it there. It just it was such a big obstacle, you just couldn't get over it."
The 2013 Muscle Shoals graduate was diagnosed with dyslexia in elementary school. When it came time for the exam, he excelled in every department except reading. It was, "...overwhelming and very stressful," Darnell told us, "[and] I didn't do very well academically and I almost didn't pass high school because of this one test."
Not passing the graduation exam had its consequences on Darnell. "I took auto body classes over at the CFT Center for Technology and due to this grad exam I was pulled out of several of those classes that could have helped me get more college credit through dual enrollment."
For Darnell's parents, it was hard watching him struggle with this one test. His father said, "I knew the intelligence was there, it just wasn't being taught to him right, so I couldn't grasp exactly what I needed to do." After Darnell missed passing the exam by one point on his 4th try, his parents dug deeper to help their son. "We also hired a friend of mine that specializes in reading and she helped him tremendously. She was able to explain it to him in a way that would benefit him and help him understand it better."
The last time he took the test there was no question he nailed it. After countless hours of studying and working hard Darnell defeated the reading portion of the exam. How did Darnell feel? "I felt free. It helped a lot. It was a huge confidence booster."