Biggest Political Fight: Testing Shake Up

By April 14, 2013 No Comments

By Vernae Hasbargen, MREA Lobbyist

In a year when the legislature is putting together $8.5 billion in education spending, the biggest political fight is not about how it is spent,  but rather on whether high school students should have to pass a single test to earn a diploma.

Eliminate GRAD

A task force, co-chaired by MREA’s Executive Director Fred Nolan, has recommended eliminating the GRAD Tests with a cut score for graduation and replacing it with the ACT without a cut score.

Minnesota is well-positioned to make this shift because 70% of our students already take the ACT  and requiring all would create a smoother transition between K-12 and higher ed.

Aligning tests would save money by cutting down on the remediation,which almost half the students entering college need. This includes establishing the aspirations to go to college at an earlier age and remediation while in elementary and high school.

Nolan told Senators that we need to use multiple measures and collect longitudinal data to ensure students graduate with the knowledge they need to succeed in higher education or their chosen career. More than 70% of the jobs already require an advanced degree so getting more students on a college track is essential.

No Cut Score

The move to the ACT is less controversial than eliminating the cut score.  Both the Business Partnership and the Chamber of Commerce testified in favor of having a cut score on the ACT for a diploma.

In the end, it came down to a tie vote in the Senate K-12 committee on an amendment to put a cut score on the ACT. Tie votes lose, so there is no “cut score” in the bill.

This is sure to be biggest hot spot as the bill makes its way into law.