A Nevada Assembly panel voted Thursday to impose a moratorium on a requirement that high school seniors pass a math proficiency test to graduate, with backers of the move saying it doesn't "dumb down" standards.
The Ways and Means Committee endorsed an amended version of AB179 after its author, Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, said an audit is needed to determine whether the math test is worthwhile.
As it stands now, the examination is "a high-stakes test that will make or break you," the former school teacher said, adding, "We have set them up to fail. Shame on us."
Assembly Speaker Richard Perkins, D-Henderson, backed the revised bill, saying it's not meant to "dumb down" math standards" and will instead ensure that students are actually being taught the math concepts that are being tested.
Perkins added that some of the test questions deal with subjects that aren't required subjects in every school district.
Under the amended measure, students would still take the math part of a proficiency test, but for this year and the next two years passage wouldn't be required to get a high school diploma. Seniors would still have to pass the reading and writing sections of the test to get a diploma.
Results of the audit of the math testing would go to the 2005 Legislature, which could decide whether to reinstate the requirement to pass the math section in order to graduate.
The bill also has a provision raising the required grade point average to qualify for a state Millennium Scholarship from 3.0 to 3.1 for students graduating in 2005 and 2006 and to 3.25 for those graduating in 2007.
Four Republicans on the Democrat-dominated Ways and Means Committee voted against AB179.
Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, had warned the original version of the bill wouldn't get much support in the Senate. He termed the bill a "step backward" for education reform efforts in Nevada.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)