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December 5, 2001

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Kevin Boatright
(608) 263-2227 or kboatright@uwsa.edu

UW System Board of Regents to Consider Deferring Implementation of High School Graduation Test Requirement

MADISON -- The Education Committee of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will consider a resolution on Thursday that would defer implementation of the board's December 2000 decision regarding use of a state high school graduation test (HSGT) for admissions purposes.

By statute, school boards have until September 1, 2002 to develop a high school graduation policy that includes, among other measures of success, pupil scores on a state-developed HSGT or a similar test of the district's choosing. Under the law, students may be excused from taking the test at the request of a parent or guardian.

Last year, the board approved changes to its admissions policies in anticipation of the statute's taking effect. The changes incorporated state law, which requires that "after September 2003, students graduating from public high schools in Wisconsin will be required to provide evidence on their final transcript that they have taken all sections of the [HSGT] or the test adopted by their school board." Under the policy, Wisconsin public high school graduates would have to take the test in order to be admitted at a UW System institution.

Subsequently, questions were raised by the public about treatment of students from other states, returning adult students, students whose parents opt out of the testing program, students with learning disabilities, and schools that develop their own tests. At the next meeting of the board, in February 2001, Regent President Jay L. Smith asked the Education Committee to study the issue further and report back this fall. The committee heard testimony on this subject from several experts at its November 2001 meeting.

Under the resolution being brought before the Education Committee this week, the board would defer "implementation of Regent Resolution 8267 (December 8, 2000) revising UW System Undergraduate Admissions Policy, pending 1) the development and evaluation of the High School Graduation Test as a useful diagnostic tool aiding admissions decisions and predicting college success, and 2) the resolution of questions relating to equitable treatment of all applicants to UW System schools. The Education Committee and the full Board of Regents will take further action upon resolution of these issues."

The proposed resolution would defer implementation of last year's changes to both the Freshman Admissions Policy (72-11) and the Traditional and Nontraditional Freshman Admissions Policy (87-8).

The executive summary that accompanies the proposed resolution states that it "seeks to address the confusion resulting from Regent Resolution 8267, which has been misinterpreted by potential students, parents, school districts, and the people of Wisconsin. The UW System Board of Regents' reiterates its strong endorsement of effective accountability measurements of K-16 educational programs, while at the same time taking into consideration several unresolved issues regarding the statutory requirements for administering the graduation test."

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