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Editorial: Keep math standards for students

Published 7:22am Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daily Herald editorial

Reports filtering out of St. Paul are that a panel reviewing Minnesota graduation requirements may suggest that the governor and lawmakers remove or modify a requirement that students pass a comprehensive mathematics test. It may be that the test which students are now supposed to pass could stand some tinkering, but abandoning the idea that students should demonstrate math proficiency strikes us as a bad plan.

Although Minnesota has for years required students to prove their math skills, lawmakers in 2009 waived the requirement that students pass a specific test in order to graduate. There are fears that nearly a third of students could not pass the test, which is said to exceed the requirement for admission to most colleges.

The root of the situation is that students are able to progress from grade to grade without truly mastering the basic skills required for advancement. The result is that young people get well into high school with sub-standard skills and little hope of ever catching up. So talk about weakening or eliminating the grad standards test is backwards; the focus should be on what students must do at the elementary and middle school level in order to advance. High school diplomas mean nothing if they don’t essentially guarantee that those who possess them have learned some things along the way.

There will always be special circumstances which must be accommodated. By and large, however, weakening graduation standards is a step in the wrong direction. In the long run, it hurts far more than it helps.

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