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Graduation test option progresses

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Some lawmakers say requiring every student to pass the Utah Basic Skills Competency Test to get a basic diploma is unfair and want to provide special education students with a different test.

HB155 would allows special education and adult education students to pass an alternative assessment in place of the UBSCT, required for a basic high school diploma. The bill passed out of committee Monday.

"Right now the UBSCT is a one size fits all," said sponsoring Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden. "This bill will say 'no, we need to address those that have learning disabilities that are in resource class or have an IEP.' "

He said it is up to the State Board of Education to make up an alternative test for those students so that they can be tested on their abilities.

The UBSCT, which measures math, reading and writing skills, is required of every Utah student from the Class of 2006 on.

Currently, those who pass it can receive a full high school diploma. Those who try it three times can get an alternative diploma and those who do neither can get a certificate of completion.

Brett Moyes, and Ogden resident, has a son who is a senior in high school who has struggled on tests throughout school due to dyslexia. Moyes said he has hired tutors to help his son get over the academic hurdles at school.

"Now he is told he must pass test or he won't receive a diploma," Moyes said. "It's like telling a student with a broken leg or no legs that you have 100 yards to run and you have to pass this in 10 seconds."

But under the new measure, those students can demonstrate their abilities through tests that are tailored to their needs.

"It should not be a one-sized fits all test," said Chareyl Moyes, Ogden resident and former PTA leader. "I don't think the state of Utah wants to send a message to kids that we don't care about them and they will be discriminated against because of their disability."

"This is a really is a good bill because of the consensus of everybody involved," said Hansen, who also worked with the PTA and the state superintendent of public instruction on the bill. "We are giving the power back to the school board and their rule-making on how this will determined."

E-mail: terickson@desnews.com