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Don Davis, Forum News Service, Published April 25 2013

Senate education bill would eliminate grad test

ST. PAUL – Minnesota senators joined the House on Thursday night in voting to eliminate a law requiring students to pass a test before graduating high school.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor education bill, spending nearly

$15.7 billion in the next two years, passed 35-28 after Republicans refused to vote for 10 minutes when Senate President Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, did not call on two GOP members seeking to speak. Most Republicans eventually put up their “no” votes, but some sat in their seats and never voted.

Three Democrats joined Republicans in opposing the measure after a debate lasting more than nine hours.

The bill would eliminate the test high school students now must pass before graduating. Under the bill, students could graduate once they receive the required number of academic credits.

The Senate bill would require schools to work with students to make post-high school plans for college or a career. Students showing enough achievement by 11th grade would take a college entrance exam and be encouraged to attend college.

Students deemed not ready for college would receive remedial aid.

An amendment to restore the graduation test failed 34-31.

The overall bill would spend nearly $15.7 billion in the next two years, the largest single portion of the state’s $38 billion budget.

The Senate-passed bill is similar to what the House approved earlier this week and Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton wants. The three funding plans will go to a conference committee to work out differences before final House and Senate votes next month.

The Senate and House bills would provide funds for free all-day kindergarten for all Minnesota students.

Clausen said all-day kindergarten helps prepare students to eventually succeed in the workforce.

“All-day kindergarten provides a foundation for learning, improves student achievement and reduces achievement gaps,” Clausen said.