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Repeal of UPASS exam is likely

Schools would save $800,000, lawmakers say

Utah's 10th-graders probably won't have to take the two-day UPASS test this coming February.

Legislative Republicans were told Tuesday that repealing the law that requires the test will save the state's strapped public education system around $800,000.

And other tests already scheduled for President Bush's No Child Left Behind and other programs will evaluate a 10th-grader's knowledge on English, science and other areas, Steven Laing, state school superintendent, told the Utah House GOP caucus.

While no caucus vote was taken, it was clear most members supported placing the repeal on an expected late-October special legislative session. Eliminating the February testing not only saves the State Board of Education money, said Rep. Gordon Snow, R-Roosevelt. "Some schools give the (test) days off to non-10th graders, so we save those (teaching) days as well for the local districts," he said.

In fiscal 2003-04, UPASS tests were scheduled to cost the state $1.3 million, Laing said. Around half a million has already been spent. But canceling the February test in the October special session will save $800,000, he added.

Not spending money on UPASS and three "make-up day" tests, for students who for whatever reason missed the February test, will save tens of millions of dollars, Laing said.

Competency-based testing will still go forward under other programs. However, some value has been gained from UPASS, which turned out to be more expensive than legislators originally estimated, Laing said.