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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Seventeen percent of the state's high school class of 2006 has yet to pass the math portion of the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test that the juniors have been able to take since they were sophomores.
Math, reading and writing tests must all be passed for the students to be awarded the state's basic diploma at next year's graduation ceremonies. The class of 2006 is the first to face the requirements.
Three percent of the juniors have not passed the reading test and 10 percent have not passed the writing test.
They all can continue taking the test through their senior year. The state Office of Education said the numbers are improving as the students continue to retake the portions of the test that they have not yet passed. When the test was first given to the class of 2006 last year, 83 percent passed the reading portion, 72 percent passed in writing and 67 percent in math.
However, some state Board of Education members said Wednesday that they are concerned about students who refuse to take the test.
Board member Teresa Theurer cited a letter she received from parents of a student who passed the reading and writing tests but has failed the math portion despite taking it three times.
"Her parents decided she is not going to take the test again," Theurer said. "This is the first of quite a few parent concerns we'll receive next year.
"We need to come up with some kind of answer, some kind of help to these parents who say, 'I don't want to do this to my child,"' she said.
Theurer said she didn't expect to hear from parents until next year, when the first class of students is affected by the requirement. Still, she said it's an issue that is difficult to address because the test is required by Utah law.
"The law is what it is," Theurer said. "I don't see we have latitude as a board."
Students who do not pass all three tests but try at times and do complete course requirements may receive an alternative completion diploma. A certificate of completion is given if a student does not pass all the subtests, did not try three times and did not complete course requirements, but did go to school through the senior year.
Colleges and the military have not yet decided how to consider these lesser degrees for students applying for college or enlisting.
Earlier this year, the Legislature rejected the state board's request for $10 million to pay for tutoring, summer school and other programs to help students pass the test.
"Districts were left to reroute their resources," Associate State Superintendent Christine Kearl said. "They've done what they can do."
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)