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Administration Shelves Pa. Graduation Exam Plan

Susan Notes:

This is temporary good news. Graduation tests never die. They just fade and then figure out a way to come again. On his website, Governor Rendell makes this statement: A cornerstone of Governor Rendell’s education effort is the commitment that all students will be ready for college and high-skilled careers when they graduate from high school.

This means they will import people from New York and Delaware to take care of the low-skill jobs?

By The Associated Press

Harrisburg, Pa.

The Rendell administration Monday temporarily shelved plans to develop graduation competency exams for Pennsylvania high school students in hopes of making peace with legislative critics who felt the administration was moving too fast.

"Under the current circumstance and to allow the emerging consensus to develop, we will not spend funds for state-mandated graduation test development" under a seven-year contract signed last month, Education Secretary Gerald Zahorchak said in a letter to ranking members of the House and Senate education committees.

Some lawmakers were upset last month when the department signed a contract with the Minnesota-based Data Recognition Corporation to develop the proposed Keystone Exams before they approved a testing method.

In last year's state budget, the Legislature included a provision barring the state Education Board from developing regulations to implement the exams through the June 30 end of the fiscal year.

Efforts to reach a compromise on the politically touchy subject were in progress when administration officials signed the contract, said Rep. James R. Roebuck, chairman of the House Education Committee.

"It served really to disrupt that entire process," the Philadelphia Democrat said. "It was as if they were in another world."

The proposed exams would be administered in grades nine through 12 to gauge students' progress in specific subjects and, pending federal approval, would replace the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests currently given in the 11th grade. School districts could continue to substitute their own tests, but they would require advance approval by the state, said department spokesman Michael Race.

Administration officials have said that the tests currently used in many school districts' tests don't adequately assess whether students are achieving state academic standards.

Work on other contract provisions, including development of a model curriculum and tools to monitor student progress, is expected to continue, Zahorchak said.

Sen. Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, was out sick Monday, his spokeswoman said.

— Associated Press


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