11/28/2012 08:52 am ET

Minnesota Task Force Urges Legislature To Drop State's High-Stakes Math Exit Exam

A state education task force is urging the Minnesota Legislature to drop the state’s high-stakes math exit exam after a Minneapolis school district analysis projected that 19,000 students — representing 31 percent of the state’s student population — are likely to fail the exam when it becomes mandatory for graduation, even after repeated retests.

Currently, Minnesota students must pass the GRAD test in reading to earn a high school diploma, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. They also take a GRAD math test, but are still allowed to graduate even if they fail three times, provided they satisfy other graduation requirements. Beginning in 2015, however, students will not be permitted to graduate if they fail the math exam three times.

In the Bloomington school district, about 31 percent of high school seniors haven’t passed the math GRAD, but a quarter of that percentage is expected to pass during retesting. Still, that leaves a considerable number of students who will not graduate.

According to the Star Tribune, Minneapolis administrators are urging the school board to publicly oppose the GRAD portion of state testing in favor of vocational and academic assessments that indicate college and career-readiness, and culminate in the ACT.

Bloomington research director David Heistad told the Star Tribune he's been asked to present his findings to a group of metro-area principals. Among other things, he has determined that Minnesota's passing standard on its math GRAD is higher than that of the ACT necessary to gain admission to most four-year colleges in the state. Thus, those who fail the test multiple times would be denied a diploma even if they posted satisfactory college-entrance scores.

The Associated Press reports that on Tuesday the task force voted 26-2 to replace the GRAD exams with tests designed to help students prepare for college or a job, though legislative action is required to make the change.



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