Plans to address mathematically challenged Minnesota students could be offered early in 2009.
A six-member, bipartisan task force is expected to meet later this month to look at ways to improve the unimpressive test score numbers. A report of change ideas is likely to be shared next month.
Members of the House E-12 Education Committee and Senate Education Committee heard about problems with the current situation and possible improvements.
“This is where rigor meets reality,” said Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), who chairs the Senate committee.
Legislation passed in 2007 changed the graduation requirements for Minnesota students.
As part of the Graduation-Required Assessments for Diploma, a passing score on a mathematics competency exam is required beginning with the Class of 2010. The problem, Wiger said, is that only about one-third of students are likely to pass that initial exam, although that percentage is expected to increase between 8 percent and 18 percent annually.
The 15-question test is to be included in the state’s 11th-grade math test, the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment-II. Writing and reading exams occur in ninth and 10th grade.
Students that receive a failing score are prohibited from retaking the test for six weeks, thus permitting math remediation.
“We find it illogical to believe that a student who has not reached a required proficiency in mathematics after eleven years of instruction is able to become proficient in the short window of time between getting test results and then being allowed to retest,” according to a statement from The GRAD Rule Task Force of the West Metro Teaching and Learning Directors’ Network. “Under the former Basic Standards Test which students were given in 8th grade, students had many years to receive additional instruction.”
Others said the test disproportionately hurts low-income and minority students.
The task force is to look at ways to keep the rule while looking for more ways to increase student passage.
Suggestions offered include:
• exempting the classes of 2010 and 2011;
• allowing students to appeal to local school officials;
• consider that if a student passes an associated course, the math standard has been met; and
• have students take the test in 10th grade, to allow for more possible remediation.
Rep. Dean Urdahl (R-Grove City) said state students traditionally rate high in math test scores through fourth grade, and that maybe the focus should be on middle school years, instead of ways to graduate unprepared students.