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Tenn Student's Latest Education Victory Is Personal

Susan Notes:

Ohanian Comment: Latricia Wilson contacted me a couple of years ago, telling a tale of being cheated of a regular high school diploma and discovering that the special diploma she received in 2002 as a student with learning difficulties was useless. This is a young woman who does not give up. Read her story here. She challenged Tennessee's Gateway test in federal court. Her complaint charged that the state has created a permanent socio-economic underclass and damaged students, with cognitive disabilities, by not providing an alternative assessment.

Here's an update.

Latricia spoke before school boards, before the legislature. She educated the media about the situation. Here you can see what a remarkable spokesperson she became, advocating not just for herself but for the thousands of students in a similar predicament.

I am so happy to learn that Latricia has graduated from Tennessee Technical College--with honors.

Jamilah King

Latricia Wilson is many things: a resilient student, hairstylist, education reform advocate and author of several well-received stories on WireTap. Now she can add one one more title to her accolades: college graduate.

Wilson was recently recognized by Memphis news outlet WREG-TV for graduating from Tennessee Technical College with honors after a long battle against the state's high school exit exams:

Latricia Wilson exceeded well beyond the expectations of many college admissions offices. She took and failed the Gateway exam in high school and for years couldn't get into college because of it. Wilson spoke out about why she felt the standardized assessment was unfair and played a key role in having it removed from Tennessee schools.

High school exit exams have faced controversy in several states. Opponents argue that the exams are an unfair and inaccurate assessment of students abilities, particularly in under-resourced schools, and lead to higher drop-out rates.

In her first story on WireTap, Wilson described her struggles after failing to pass the exam:

I struggled as an adult to make a living wage to support myself. I worked as a waitress for years, took on double shifts and was just barely able to pay my rent. I was getting further away from my career goals and sinking deeper into poverty and debt. Eventually, I was evicted from my apartment. I've truly experienced how difficult it is to be an independent adult without a valid high school diploma. But I decided to do something about it, and started a quest to regain my rightful degree.

Wilson ultimately won her battle against Tennessee's Gateway exam. The Tennessee State Board of Education voted to eliminate the test during the 2009-2010 school year and replace it with much-needed science and math courses.

To read more about her story, read it in her own words.

On behalf of the entire WireTap crew, congratulations Latricia! We're proud and inspired!

— Jamilah King
WireTap Magazine



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