Minnesota lawmakers vote to eliminate graduation testsMinnesota senators joined the House on Thursday night in voting to eliminate a law requiring students to pass a test before graduating high school.
By: Don Davis, State Capitol Bureau
ST. PAUL — Minnesota senators joined the House on Thursday night in voting to eliminate a law requiring students to pass a test before graduating high school.
The DFL education bill, spending nearly $15.7 billion in the next two years, passed 35-28 after Republicans refused to vote for 10 minutes when Senate President Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, did not call on two GOP members seeking to speak. Most Republicans eventually put up their “no” votes, but some sat in their seats and never voted.
Three Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure after a debate lasting more than nine hours.
The bill would eliminate the test high school students now must pass before graduating. Under the bill, students could graduate once they receive the required number of academic credits.
The Senate bill would require schools to work with students to make post-high school plans for college or a career. Students showing enough achievement by 11th grade would take a college entrance exam and be encouraged to attend college.
Students deemed not ready for college would receive remedial aid.
Republicans said the DFL plan would leave a question about whether students are qualified to receive a diploma. But Education Finance Chairman Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, said the bill requires graduates to successfully receive specific credits to graduate.
“It is more than seat time,” Wiger said.
Sen. Greg Clausen, DFL-Apple Valley, said all students should not be judged by the same test because they “have different abilities, different skills, different interests. ... They don’t learn at the same pace.”
Sen. Branden Petersen, R-Andover, said students need to pass the standard test or they would “graduate from high school under false pretenses.”
An amendment to restore the graduation test failed 34-31.
The overall bill would spend nearly $15.7 billion in the next two years, the largest single portion of the state’s $38 billion budget.
The Senate-passed bill is similar to what the House approved earlier this week and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton wants. The three funding plans will go to a conference committee to work out differences before final House and Senate votes next month.
The Senate and House bills would provide funds for free all-day kindergarten for all Minnesota students.
The education bill also would:
Danielle Killey contributed to this story.