Bill Outlines Higher Standards for High School Graduation

5 years 9 months 14 hours ago Thursday, February 20 2014 Feb 20, 2014 Thursday, February 20, 2014 5:35:00 PM CST February 20, 2014 in News
By: Connor Wist, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA - High school students in Missouri would be held to a higher set of standards in order to receive a diploma if a House bill is passed.

HB 1536, also known as the Student Accountability Act, would begin in three to four years if it becomes law. Under this bill, each high school student would be required to score proficient or higher in at least one assessment in each of the core subject areas. Those areas include mathematics, communication arts, social sciences and science.

If a student fails to achieve the required performance on the assessments, the high school would not be allowed to issue a high school academic diploma. Accredited districts are able to use assessments that they develop, but districts that are provisionally accredited would have to use assessments issued by the state.

Rep. Bryan Spencer, R-Wentzville, is the bill's sponsor. The bill failed to move out of committee last year. During Wednesday's hearing, nobody in favor of the bill besides Spencer.

Spencer argues many students continue to a college campus or into the workforce without the skills necessary to succeed. He believes students need to reach a higher standard before receiving their high school diplomas.

President of Focus on Learning Center Dr. Ene-Kaja Chippendale said the bill is vague in outlining the level of proficiency required for students.

"It proposes mandates that are very far reaching in terms of proficiency that it wishes for students without mentioning in any shape or form how that proficiency is going to be achieved," Chippendale said.

Chippendale also said the bill does not take into account the entirety of the education process and the overall cost it would require to put into action in 2017-18.

"That achievement is going to require money, smaller classrooms, more teachers and more resources," Chippendale said. "It's going to cost. It's not going to be something that you can simply dictate and say it's going to happen.

Eighth grader Nicole Jefferson goes to Focus on Learning for tutoring. She said standardized tests take away from students being able to show their strengths in different subject areas.

"I feel like a more personalized test for you would be a lot better," she said. "I think you would feel more confident knowing your level is right where you are."

If students are ineligible to receive their high school diplomas, options would include tutoring, classes, re-taking the test and summer or after school programs.

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