Thursday, June 14, 2001

Proficiency tests eliminated; new school standards adopted

The Associated Press

        Gov. Bob Taft on Tuesday signed into law a bill that eliminates the state's proficiency tests and makes several changes to its system of academic standards. Under the law, the state will:

        • Eliminate the requirement that, beginning in the 2001-2002 school year, students who don't pass the fourth-grade reading test would be prohibited from advancing to the fifth grade.

        • Require help for students who are struggling to pass a third-grade reading test.

        • Require districts to intervene if problems at chronically failing schools aren't addressed. Districts could fire a principal, contract with a nonprofit company or let students transfer, among other options.

        • Phase out existing proficiency tests in the fourth, sixth, eighth and 12th grades and replace them with tests that closely follow new academic standards.

        • Test children for reading in the third grade, math and writing in the fourth and science and citizenship in the fifth.

        • Test children on these subjects again in the seventh and eighth grades.

        • Beginning in 2007, require that students pass a statewide 10th-grade test before graduating from high school. Or, require that students pass exams in a variety of subjects at the end of 10th grade.

        • Allow students who fail one of the five 10th-grade proficiency tests to graduate from high school as long as they meet several other requirements, including a 2.5 grade-point average.

        • Require that all districts use a state-approved test to measure the academic abilities of students in grades kindergarten through eight. • Prohibit questions to identify gifted students on these tests.

        • Require that schools provide intensive remedial programs for students who aren't showing signs of passing the third-grade reading test.

        • Require the state to provide extensive new data on test results, including results by race, sex, ethnicity and economic status.

        • Add a standard of “excellent” to the four current performance standards for school districts. The other standards: academic emergency, academic watch, continuous improvement and effective.

        • Require the adoption of academic standards and model curricula only in the five core subject areas of reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science, as well as computer literacy, fine arts and foreign language.

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