New series of high school tests tied to graduation

February 19, 1998


Staff Writer

The state Board of Education will make a series of new high school assessment tests part of a requirement for graduation, a move one local school official fears will drive up the dropout rate.

State officials said it is unclear how the series of tests will be tied to a diploma.

Possible requirements could involve passing all of the tests, passing a portion of the tests, or achieving a certain composite score on the exams, said Ron Peiffer, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

"There may be other options," said Peiffer, who said the requirement is scheduled to take effect in January 2001.

There is no statewide testing program for high school students, but under the proposal, students would be required to get passing grades on 10 of 12 assessment tests covering subjects like English, math, science and social studies.


Doris J. Nipps, a member of the Washington County Board of Education, has said she fears making the tests part of the requirement for graduation will increase the district's dropout rate.

The county dropout rate hit its highest point in more than a decade in 1996 when more than 5 percent of the district's students dropped out.

Peiffer said fear of the tests increasing the dropout rate is "a real legitimate concern."

As part of the plan, state board of education members have suggested setting up a program to help students get help in subject areas they may be having problems with on the tests, said Peiffer.

Nipps said Wednesday that idea would probably require more classroom space and teachers.

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