Test for high school competency scheduled
The Utah Basic Skills Competency Test will be given in Park City, North Summit and South Summit school districts, Oct. 17-19. Successful completion of all three sections of the test are required for a graduate to receive a basic high school diploma in Utah.
The test is made up of reading, math and writing sections. Any of the three sections not passed must be retaken at a later testing date. A section successfully passed by a student does not have to be retaken. Testing is offered twice per year, in October and in February, beginning in the tenth grade.
Tim McConnell, of human resources in the Park City School District, said that between Park City High School and the Learning Center, 40 students are scheduled to take the math portion of the test, and 30 are scheduled to take the reading and writing portion.
Not all taking the test are tenth-grade students or students who have failed a portion of the test. Students new to the state may have to take the tests if Utah does not recognize their state as having a comparable test.
"This test is absolutely critical to the students who are down to the wire, Sandy Jaussi, the assessment director for North Summit School District said of seniors hoping to graduate with a basic diploma. "There is a lot that rides on this."
Although students still may be able to graduate if they fail any or all portions of the test, diplomas will be issued stating that basic competency has not been achieved.
"A lot of these kids work really hard," said Jaussi. "If they don’t pass, we’ll get them tutoring. Everyone wants these kids to do well."
UBSCT was drafted by the Utah Legislature in 1999, as an assessment of skills expected of a graduating high school student. The UBSCT test scores are not considered by colleges, only the pass, no pass designation on the diploma. 2006 will be the first year that graduating students will be required to pass all three sections of UBSCT to receive a basic diploma.
Not all educators see the UBSCT as a fair indicator of a student’s ability.
"There are better ways to check our kids’ abilities, but because we have to test with UBSCT, we support it and do the best we can," said Superintendent Tim Smith of South Summit School District. He said 80 to 100 students are taking the test.
"How well will a student do if his parents get in a fight the night before the test? There are too many obstacles, too many stumbling blocks," Smith said.
" A student could put together a portfolio in a field that interests him, where we could measure his progress over time," Smith said. "There are better ways to test abilities. Sometimes I think we test our kids too much."
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