Minnesota urged to drop high-stakes graduation exams

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2012 - 7:28 PM

Advocates for the change say what's needed is an emphasis on remedying weaknesses before students start college or a job.

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marathongirlNov. 27, 12 1:46 PM

Why not just give everyone a diploma? I mean it's not fair to the kids that some get one and others don't right? It will hurt their feelings. That said, standardized tests are not the answer, because not everyone does well on a test. A test doesn't always tell the true story of what someone has learned, but just passing everyone doesn't work either. There has to be some middle ground of showing they have learned the knowledge needed...heck, some need to keep up with rudimentary. What we really need is a system like other countries where if you don't hit a certain standard/level, you just simply don't go on, you learn a trade vs going to college...not everyone is meant for college...heck, not everyone is meant for the last years of high school.

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JvonkorffNov. 27, 12 2:11 PM

Standardized tests can measure what students know, and that is especially true with mathematics standardized tests. Maybe there are some students who perform poorly on timed tests, but basically, the claim that standardized tests don't provide a fair accounting of what students know is vastly overstated. In fact, the test is measuring what students know: the problem is requiring all students to attain an arbitrary level of proficiency. If you want everyone to pass, then the proficiency level must be set at 1 percentile. If you set it at 50th percentile, then 50% of the students are going to fail. And so on. There is a simple solution: place the percentile score on the diploma and let employers and post secondary institutions decide whether the graduate is prepared for a particular job or course of study based on the results. Stop saying that every student has to get to the same place. Its just not possible.

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vampress_meNov. 27, 12 2:14 PM

Again - Ahhh, Minnesota, land of "if it gets hard (or embarrasses us), quit teaching it". It's truly sad how many people who live here have their heads buried in the sand about how the education children get in Minnesota has gone downhill in the last 20 years. Minnesota used to graduate quite high achieving student from the K-12 system, but that isn't happening anymore on the scale it used to. So now, instead of finding the reason and possibly working to change the broken part of the system (no rigorous teaching of math fundamentals until they are fully understood in elementary school) and going back to those high achieving times, they want to just eliminate what makes the education system in this state look bad. In 5 years we can just have the license plates changed to "land of education failure" and that will be more true than the current "land of 10,000 lakes".

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thepointNov. 27, 12 2:29 PM

8th grade is much too late to assess for math skills. 4th or 5th grade would be the latest, because if a student is not at grade level then, they will be almost too far gone by 8th grade to finish well-prepared by 12th grade.

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jchilman12Nov. 27, 12 2:30 PM

This is a fantastic example of where we are heading in this country. 69% are passing the math test just fine but we are going to throw it out because it is too hard for 31%. We are not going to hold the 31% accountable. Nope, if 31% are failing it must be the fault of the test. What is so sad is these watered down standards are making good teachers in public school look bad. There are many great public school teachers who are being hand cuffed by a system that refuses to acknowledge that not everyone DESERVES and education. Every deserves a CHANCE to get one, but if a student is going to refuse to learn and a parent is going to allow it, then the students needs to be allowed to fail. After they fail they need to be allowed the opportunity to accept that failure or decide to work hard. If they accept that failure they need the opportunity to suffer the consequences of that really bad decision. If they then decide to work hard help needs to be there. If they again decide that the consequences are not that bad, we need to stop enabling THAT decision.

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rlhylandNov. 27, 12 2:46 PM

vampress_me, you are completely correct that education has taken a turn for the worse. Since implementation of the "Grad" standards, school curriculum was changed to teach to the standards. The high achievers were penalized by this, thus as you say the education our kids get has gone downhill...

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gopearceNov. 27, 12 2:52 PM

The important question is why so many students are not passing the test and how school districts can improve results. We are not acting in the best interests of students, businesses and tax payers if our graduates are not proficient in math. This is a timely opportunity to reassess curriculum, teaching methods and state commitment to the education of all our students. Please don't change the test, lets focus on improving the mathematics knowledge of our students.

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SammyBoyNov. 27, 12 3:02 PM

To the first three commenters, who apparently read a different article: There was no mention of removing testing completely, changing it to be so easy that a fifth-grader could pass it, or any other fanciful nonsense. They proposed a replacement that focused on education for college and employment rather than a test administered after it was too late to do anything besides fail the kid and tell their parents they needed to hire a tutor. Besides the reality that Minnesota consistently surpasses all other states other than Mass. (NAEP testing) as well as many other countries that the US as a whole struggle to reach parity with, the group is focused on education and remediation of the students who still don't get it. Never mind that the state has a financial interest in ensuring that it's students graduate with a diploma, as those states with a higher percentage of high-school dropouts are the being left in dust nationally and globally.

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gjacobNov. 27, 12 3:03 PM

Require 4 years of math instead of making it mostly optional. It's hard to pass a math test when you have only been marginally exposed to it. Math teaches logic, reasoning and problem solving. Unfortunately, there are too many adults that sell kids that it's not important and is too hard to learn.

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dpaul31Nov. 27, 12 3:39 PM

In today's "lust for socialism" environment, expertise is equated with discrimination. We can't embarrass those who cannot succeed because of their so-called environment. The "Iowa Basic Skills Test" was the great evaluator. Now, even the Catholic schools have bought into equality in the market place without expertise.

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