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Gov. Chris Gregoire still opposes delays in math and science grad requirement

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Jan. 25, 2011 at 11:35 am with No Comments »
January 26, 2011 10:02 am

Bills in both houses of the Legislature are responding to state schools chief Randy Dorn‘s request to delay from 2013 to 2017 the requirement that state students pass math and science assessments.

Today, however, Gov. Chris Gregoire said she is not interested in delaying the graduation requirement for four years.

“We’re letting our kids down,” Gregoire said during her weekly press conference. “When we say we haven’t been able to get our programs up and running enough to meet the needs of our students, that’s us, it’s not our students.”

Gregoire was referencing concerns that new assessments called end-of-course exams in math and biology are not ready for the class of 2013.

“I’m very troubled by the fact that we are delaying,” she said. “The last thing we should be doing in this economic recession, in my opinion, is delaying the recovery of our students to compete in a global marketplace in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

“I’m going to be doing everything I can to move us forward, not to turn the corner and go back,” she said.

High school students must already pass high school proficiency exams in reading and writing in order to graduate. The state has a series of alternative assessments for those who are unable to pass the tests but feel they are proficient in the material.

Current students must either pass a math exam or take extra credits in math. There is a science test given but passing it is not now a graduation requirement.

The bills would put off the full math and science graduation requirements until 2017
because the new assessments in biology and math won’t be ready in time to give them when students completed the courses.
This reflects a new method of testing in which end-of-course exams are given right after a student completes the class, rather than comprehensive math and science tests given at the end of sophomore year.

Chris Barron of Dorn’s staff offered this clarification to the sentence struck through above…

The math end-of-course exams are ready for this spring as mandated by the Legislature. And the biology exam will be ready in spring 2012, as mandated. It’s the timing of the graduation requirements that’s a little off as we transition to the new exams. The math and science graduation requirements begin with the class of 2013 as we begin the new exams. That will happen anytime you move from a single, comprehensive exam to two end-of-course exams. That’s why Randy has requested students through the class of 14 pass only one exam in order to let the system align.

“I’m willing to talk about whether we need to have a minor delay,” Gregoire said. “But a delay of that magnitude is very concerning to me.”

Dorn said today that he worries about the high cost of adding the science test and the alternative assessments at a time when much of education is facing cuts.

He also said one potential compromise on the math testing is to allow students this year to choose which end-of-course test to take as their graduation requirement. Presumably they would pick the test that assesses the course they have just completed – algebra, geometry or integrated math.

Then, when all of the testing is ready so students can take them when they finish each course, additional testing requirements can be added.

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