Indiana may tie college aid to state exam

Students will have to pass Indiana’s graduation exam to qualify for state-funded college aid under a bill moving through the Legislature, reports the Indianapolis Star. Those at risk of failing the state exam will be offered remedial courses in 12th grade.

Students can graduate without passing the exam by getting a waiver. More than a quarter of Indianapolis Public Schools graduates needed waivers to earn diplomas last year, reports the Star.

“The bill is intended to break a cycle in which a student achieves a high school diploma, enrolls in a college, is given a placement exam and then told they need remediation,” said Dan Clark, executive director of the Education Roundtable. “Then they must use their financial aid to pay for it.”

. . .  “Sometimes they go into debt to pay for these courses,” Clark said, “and the evidence is clear very few students who have this cycle ever graduate from an institution of higher education.”

Older students enrolling in college would have to pass placement tests to qualify for state aid under the bill. “I’m worried that this is one more road block,”said Jeff Terp, a senior vice president at Ivy Tech Community College.

The bill’s advocates say students should catch up on basic skills in high school or in adult education courses, rather than taking remedial courses in college.

Students aren't ready

Washington state students aren’t ready for new graduation requirements in math, science, speaking, and writing, argues state Superintendent Randy Dorn in the Spokane Spokesman-Review.  The class of ’13 will be required to pass all four state exams, but the new math standards won’t be tested until they’re in 10th grade; science won’t kick in till 11th grade. That’s not enough time to prepare.

I will propose that the 2010 Legislature continue our current math requirement through the class of 2014, and that we have two tiers – “basic” and “proficient” – at which students in the class of 2015 can meet the graduation requirement. . . . Students who achieve proficient complete the requirement, but those who pass at the basic level will have to earn a fourth math credit, which is one more than the state requires.

. . . In science, I will ask that the graduation requirement be delayed until the class of 2017, which is today’s seventh-graders. That will give them time to learn the new standards, and hopefully give our educators time to encourage more science instruction.

The same issue is arising in many states, points out Curriculum Matters.

Exit exam axed for special ed students

Special education students won’t have to pass an exit exam to get a high school diploma in California under a budget deal cut by legislators.  Some Democrats had wanted to drop the exam for all students.

Parents of special education students are divided on the issue, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Some say their children are just as smart as nondisabled students and should not be held to lower standards. However, others argue the test is unfair for kids with certain disabilities who repeatedly failed the test and were consequently denied a high school diploma.

California’s exam is a four-option multiple-choice test that requires a 60 percent score to pass the English Language Arts and 55 percent for the math portion. The hardest questions cover 10th-grade English and eighth-grade math, which includes algebra.  By guessing on the harder questions, students with middle-school English skills and elementary math skills should be able to pass.

Students who pass their courses but can’t pass the exam can be offered a completion certificate or a “special” diploma. Most special education students can pass the exam — in the San Jose area, nearly half pass on their first try in 10th grade. To offer them an easier alternative does them no favors.

1, 2, 3 strikes you pass

Minnesota demands that juniors pass a demanding math test to qualify for graduation. Or they can flunk three times and get a diploma. Rather than drop the questions, which really are difficult, and write easier ones next year, the Legislature decided on the three strikes and you graduate plan.

Via Education Gadfly.