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Friday, February 20, 2009

Bill Would Ban Grad Requirement

State Senator Jane C. Orie (R-40) has introduced legislation expressly prohibiting the Department of Education from establishing any new high school graduation requirement without legislative approval.

“For the past several years, the Rendell Administration has been moving toward mandating a new test -- the Graduation Competency Assessment -- that all 11th graders would have to pass prior to receiving a diploma,” said Sen. Orie. “While I believe in high academic standards and accountability, we should be monitoring these students in third through eighth grades and intervening then in order to be proactive rather than reactive -- when it is too late.”

Last year, the General Assembly passed and the Governor signed into law legislation prohibiting the Department of Education from promulgating, approving, or proposing a regulation to change or establish high school graduation requirements during the 2008-09 Fiscal Year. Despite this ban, the Department has proceeded with the development of the controversial tests, which are estimated to cost $45 million in a few years.

“In these tough fiscal times, when many programs are being slated for cuts in funding, we cannot afford this new program,” said Sen. Orie. “It is my hope that we can stop this wasteful spending -- and redirect our resources to schools in a more useful manner.”

Senate Bill 281 has been referred to the Senate Education Committee, which is holding a hearing on the legislation tomorrow (February 19th) in the State Capitol. Senator Orie will be attending and testifying in support of the bill.

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