What others say: When two is less than one, subtraction is the answer

  • Tuesday, February 18, 2014 9:05pm
  • Opinion

This month, the Alaska Legislature’s education subcommittees are considering four competing measures that would eliminate the Alaska High School Graduation Qualifying Exam.

Among the four is a proposal included as part of Gov. Sean Parnell’s omnibus education package. When it comes to the exit test, we agree with the governor.

The test was first given to high school seniors in 1998 to ensure they were ready for college. If you don’t pass the test, you don’t get a diploma. Pass it, and you’re certified ready to graduate.

The test is now administered sophomore year, allowing students two years to take it again if they fail. But Alaskan students aren’t stupid. If they pass the test sophomore year, they know they can turn the remaining two years of high school into a pleasure cruise of electives and free time. Some students now take the test as early as eighth grade, seeing it as the last barrier to an easy high school career — or worse, a sign they don’t need high school at all.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, students with learning disabilities may struggle with the test, taking it again and again, postponing secondary education in order to pass this mandatory hurdle.

The test was designed as a measuring stick, but those testifying before the Senate Education Committee on Monday called it “obsolete.”

Next year, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development will implement a new testing scheme for students from third through 11th grades. If the state fails to eliminate the graduation exam, high school sophomores will face three standardized tests. Students learning English will take a fourth test.

More testing means less time for basic instruction by teachers. Students will acquire fewer skills, and schools will suffer.

The state board of education realizes this. Two weeks ago, it unanimously approved a resolution calling for the test to be repealed. The graduation exam, the board said, costs $2 million per year and “is not an appropriate means of measuring college and career readiness.”

We agree.

It’s time for the state to learn addition by subtraction.

— Juneau Empire,

Feb. 14

More in Opinion

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks about teacher bonuses during consideration a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Rep. Ben Carpenter: Time to disrupt our legislative process

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Fishing, energy move into spotlight

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of debating an omnibus education bill in the Alaska House Chambers on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge: Finding common ground on education

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks to attendees at a town hall event on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Taking action for workers, supporting kids

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Rep. Justin Ruffridge works in the Alaska State Capitol building on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge: Bills move forward and public weighs in

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Alaska House Rep. Ben Carpenter, center, speaks to constituents at the Alaska State Capitol, in this undated photo. (Courtesy Office of Rep. Ben Carpenter)
Rep. Ben Carpenter: Focusing on fiscal stability

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Alaska Council of School Administrators logo. (Photo provided)
Op-Ed: The K-12 Fiscal Cliff: Who is Responsible? Everyone!

Seven years is a very long time to go without a meaningful permanent state funding increase

Priya Helweg is the Deputy Regional Director and Executive Officer for the Office of the Regional Director (ORD), Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, Region 10. (Image via hhs.gov)
Opinion: Inflation Reduction Act makes prescription drugs less expensive and more accessible

The Medicare program, can, for the first time, negotiate a fair price for certain prescription drugs taken by millions of beneficiaries

Alaska House Rep. Ben Carpenter, center, speaks to constituents at the Alaska State Capitol, in this undated photo. (Courtesy Office of Rep. Ben Carpenter)
Rep. Ben Carpenter: Looking toward strategic education reforms

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, speaks to attendees at a town hall event on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sen. Jesse Bjorkman: Hearings for bills on the horizon

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

Rep. Justin Ruffridge works in the Alaska State Capitol building on Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Rep. Justin Ruffridge: Energy on the front burner

Capitol Corner: Legislators report back from Juneau

In this undated file photo the Trans-Alaska pipeline and pump station north of Fairbanks, Alaska is shown. (AP Photo / Al Grillo)
Opinion: The PROVE IT Act would affirm Alaska LNG makes global sense

The PROVE IT Act is U.S. Senate legislation to study the emissions intensity of goods produced in the U.S. with those produced in other countries