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Idaho graduates don’t need to pass science test

BOISE – Idaho is scrapping a rule that would have required high school students to pass standardized tests in science before they graduate, starting with the class of 2013.

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said science classes vary from district to district and students are only tested twice – in the fifth and seventh grades – before they are tested by the state in the 10th grade.

“When you only test them in fifth and seventh grade, that’s not enough,” Luna said Thursday. “We have no way of identifying who needs remediation along the way.”

State education officials believe the lack of testing may explain why fewer students were proficient in science than in math and reading on the Idaho Standardized Achievement Tests this year. Public school students are tested more frequently in those subjects.

The current system is not an accurate measure of how students are performing in science, Luna said, “not to the point that we would make it a graduation requirement.”

The state Board of Education agreed, voting this week to dump the rule requiring students to test proficient in science before they graduate – at least for now.

The board instructed Luna’s department to develop end-of-course assessments in science that students will have to pass in order to graduate, according to documents provided by the board. Those assessments would take effect for the class of 2017.