VALRICO, Fla. (WFLA) — Though it was 20 years and what feels like a lifetime ago, Shannon Cancelli still remembers her high school graduation.

“Everybody else had their diplomas and I don’t,” said Cancelli. “So, it definitely made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.”

The Valrico mother of two didn’t pass her Florida state tests, so she only got a Certificate of Completion, not a diploma.

“With it being a requirement for graduation, that bothers me. I wanted to pass,” Cancelli recalled. “I was stressing about passing this test. I just couldn’t do it.”

Though Cancelli did eventually get her diploma, she had to pay for and take the GED multiple times, into the summer, before she got the important piece of paper in the mail. It came months after she walked the stage at graduation.

Twenty years later, little has changed for thousands of students across Florida. Though there is an option to replace a failed state test with a concordant SAT or ACT section score, there are now stricter replacement requirements for those college exams. A bill to waive those requirements passed both chambers of the state legislature last week, but Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to sign it.

Thousands of high school seniors from the Class of 2023 are waiting to see if and when he will.

“It’s not these students’ fault, what happened related to COVID,” said Superintendent Addison Davis. “But we have to be able to give them some type of grace during this time.”

Davis is the superintendent for Hillsborough County Public Schools. The district said nearly 2,000 seniors won’t graduate if the waiver doesn’t pass.

If the waiver does pass, the district still estimates about 1,500 students won’t get a diploma. Last year, that number was 240. The district said it will work with any and all seniors that aren’t on track to get a diploma to help them pass any tests they need to.

“They’ve experienced a lot over the last three years, so we understand that we want to give them grace,” Davis said. “But we also want to push them intellectually where they’ll be able to continue to demonstrate mastery on all of the core competencies within our classrooms.”

Even if the waiver is passed, the stricter requirements to replace state test scores with SAT or ACT scores go into effect for the Class of 2024.

“So the realities are, across the state next year, graduation scores are going to decline,” Davis explained. “And that’s all because next year will be a true baseline of where we are.”

That’s not good news for Cancelli and her two kids, 13-year-old Jackson and 10-year-old Jordanna. Both kids have been held back a grade and have test anxiety. But that stays in Jackson’s head.

“I was just upset with myself,” Jackson remembered. “It’ll sometimes get in my head.”

One of the toughest parts of school stresses the sixth grader the most.

“Sometimes I can be nervous, because it depends on how hard the test can be,” Jackson said. “I’ll sit there, being nervous, and I’ll be there and my head will be frustrated.”

Jackson has important state tests for graduation in a couple years. If he fails, by that point in time, there will be stricter requirements to replace his score with a concordant SAT or ACT score.

“I’ve seen it and I’ve gotten like, if I ever get there, I’d definitely be really nervous to take it,” Jackson explained. “Because something’s on the line.”

Hearing the expected decline in graduation rates, Shannon Cancelli just shakes her head.

“I’m ashamed, honestly,” Cancelli said. “That’s sad. That’s sad.”

She wishes her kids learned what she said were real world skills, not how to take a test.

“I don’t understand why they would want to do something,” Cancelli said. “Where so many kids would fall behind like that.”