Move to nix exit exams gains support at State Capitol - - Jackson, MS

Move to nix exit exams gains support at State Capitol

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A pending bill at the State Capitol is aimed at doing away with high school exit exams. The topic has been an ongoing discussion for a few years now.
But there's been some new action on the issue.

The state did expand the options a few years ago. If a student doesn't pass one of the four exit exams, they can still graduate if they have a certain class average and meet specific benchmarks. But some lawmakers want to see the tests banned altogether. 

Representative Tom Miles has filed legislation that essentially states if the Department of Education wants its money, they have to eliminate the exit exams as a graduation requirement.

"We have to do this to get their attention," Miles explained. "What we're trying to do is do away with them altogether because if the tests don't count, there's no reason to give it."

Miles notes that Mississippi is one of only 13 states that have exit exams tied to graduation.

"Let the teachers teach," Miles noted. "Cause right now our teachers are either giving a test, preparing to give a test, or just finishing giving a test. They don't have time to teach to our students in the classroom."

Earlier this session, Miles introduced multiple options that would've gotten rid of that grad requirement. One was to replace those tests with the ACT.

"No college has ever asked a student what they've made on their state test," he said. "They've asked them what have they scored on their ACT."

Miles isn't stuck on that idea but wants to see the current tests gone. The executive director of the Mississippi Professional Educators Kelly Riley says the public call to get rid of the tests has ramped up in recent years.

"There's a lot of different issues or factors that can contribute to a student's performance," explained Riley. "That's really been the main concern is just what's at stake on a test that's a snapshot in time."

Riley notes, as did Miles, that some type of test does have to be administered in order for the state to get certain federal funding--but it doesn't have to be a grad requirement.

The K-12 funding bill that Miles' amendment is attached to is expected to wind up in conference at the end of the legislative session. That means a group of House and Senate leaders will weigh the options and possibly come to an agreement.

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