Task Force Recommends Canceling Graduation Tests

Task Force Recommends Canceling Graduation Tests

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Utah legislative task force has recommended Utah's planned high school graduation tests be abandoned.

The legislators contend the state Board of Education's proposed new graduation requirements would accomplish the same goal.

The Public Education Legislative Task Force voted unanimously Tuesday to prepare a bill to eliminate the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test.

The test has had pilot tryouts and has been criticized as being either too easy or too hard.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, said the move to discard the test may be an effort to quell controversy or a reaction to students faring poorly in the pilot applications.

"I would be reluctant to eliminate the basic skills test for graduation until I saw the quality of what is to replace it," said Stephenson, co-sponsor of the legislation that set up the Utah Performance Assessment System for Students, which includes the competency test. "It amazes me we would scrap the test before it is even fully on line after investing so much in it."

As of December, the state had spent nearly $1.3 million on the test, the Office of the Legislative Auditor General said.

The move toward eliminating the test follows national outcry over high school graduation tests, which inner-city students are failing at much higher rates than suburban teens.

Under the current plans, beginning with the class of 2006, the test must be passed for students to earn a full diploma. Those failing the test receiving alternative diplomas. Its purpose is to give a high school diploma more substance.

Elimination of the test is being considered because of the proposed standards-based graduation requirements, said state testing coordinator Louise Moulding.

The requirements including getting a C or better and passing a year-end test in several subjects. Accelerated students could test out of classes and graduate early.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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