Massachusetts Student Finds Path Around Exit Exam Barrier

K-12 Testing

FairTest Examiner, May 2010

There’s some long-delayed good news for Massachusetts student Shannon McDermott, whose family spent years and tens of thousands of dollars fighting the consequences of the state’s exit exams. Thanks to a Maine school that recognizes high school credits earned in schools bound by exit exam policies, Shannon has earned her high school diploma and is now finding success and happiness in college, studying culinary arts.

The McDermotts were featured in a documentary about students who struggle to pass the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). In Children Left Behind, produced by Northeastern University Professor Louis Kruger her mother explains Shannon’s lifelong struggle with epileptic seizures, which doctors said affected her ability to pass the math MCAS test.

The McDermotts learned at a screening of the film about North Atlantic Regional High School, which grants diplomas for a fee to students who can show by their high school transcript they have fulfilled its graduation requirements.

Shannon’s mother, Janet McDermott, wants others to benefit from the path they found to be so helpful. “That opened the door for Shannon to attend the college she is at now, Southern Maine Community College. She lives in the dorms and is working on a degree in culinary arts. She loves it!!! Her high school class is graduating from college this year and she is just starting, but after this long journey she is finally pursuing her goals and dreams against the odds.”

A copy of the film can be ordered at