(Host) Brian Dubie, the Republican running for lieutenant governor, wants greater accountability for Vermont schools. Dubie says high school seniors should pass a new state graduation test before they get a diploma. Dubie’s opponents don’t like the plan at all, as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) According to the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Brian Dubie, a number of high school seniors are graduating without the basic skills they need. Dubie wants the state to take steps to insure that a Vermont high school diploma has greater value.
Dubie notes that some states, like New York and Massachusetts, now require seniors to pass a test before receiving a high school diploma. Dubie wants Vermont to do the same thing and he argues the results will help the state identify which schools need additional resources:
(Dubie) “I think we should pass a MCADs type of test to ensure that we reached a standard. So that when a child gets a diploma in our state, we know that the diploma – it means something. And the sad fact is, there is a lot of school districts in our state that are graduating students across our state that aren’t meeting the standard.”
(Kinzel) Progressive candidate Anthony Pollina says he opposes the plan because he’s concerned that teachers will be forced to teach to the test in order to ensure that their students pass the exam:
(Pollina) “I would hate to see it come down to one specific test. I think the idea of testing students is fine. I think the idea of forcing everybody to simply focus on passing a particular test distracts us from the need to do other kinds of testing and to engage kids in other kinds of learning.”
(Kinzel) Democratic candidate Peter Shumlin says the student assessments that are included in Act 60 are working well and he’s surprised by Dubie’s proposal:
(Shumlin) “The results are proving that that’s been tremendously successful and I’m confused as to why Brian – who hasn’t served in public life – now comes up with a plan that contradicts his own statement that he doesn’t want a system that teaches to the test. That’s exactly what he would create by having a system of high stakes testing.”
(Kinzel) The State Board of Education in Massachusetts is concerned that their diploma test may be blocking access to higher education opportunities for some students. So the board is now considering an alternative system that will allow students who fail the test to attend a community college in Massachusetts.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.