Mandatory test budget slashed

Minnesota lawmakers announced substantial changes to the state’s standardized testing policies following a reduction last month of the Minnesota Department of Education’s testing budget from $42 million to $28 million.
 
The changes, which will take effect during the coming school year, include the abolition of several standardized tests, including an earlier-than-expected end to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment GRAD exams. Moreover, in a marked turnaround from a recently enacted policy, high school juniors will no longer be required to take the ACT. 
 
This April marked the first time that Minnesota paid for all its high school juniors to take the ACT. Under the new changes, schools will now offer the test to any student who wants to take it. Districts will report their costs to the state, which has set aside a total of $3 million per year to reimburse them.  
 
Proponents of the changes argue that the educational system places too much importance on standardized testing. However, critics worry that standardized tests are a vital resource for teachers, who must account for their performance in the classroom.  
 
We approve of the changes to Minnesota’s standardized testing policy, especially the abolition of a mandatory ACT. Mandatory ACT testing was an expensive measure that seemed to delegitimize post-secondary options such as community or technical colleges by trying to shoehorn every student into a four-year university. 
 
Under the changes, students who want to take the ACT can still do so free of charge. We feel that this is an efficient and sensible measure that could have merit as a long-term policy.