About 28,000 Minnesota schoolchildren get second chance

ST. PAUL (AP) — It didn’t go well for LaQuanda Hammons when she took Minnesota’s eighth-grade basic skills tests for the first time last February. She failed.
But she was feeling better Tuesday just after retaking the reading test at Central High School, and she was confident about the math test she planned to take Wednesday.
“I’m nervous. But I’m ready.” she said. “I know I’m going to pass it.”
Hammons was one of about 28,000 Minnesota students retaking the basic skills tests this week after failing to pass in February. Beginning with the class of 2000, passing the exam is a statewide graduation requirement.
The tests were given in February to all Minnesota eighth-graders and to ninth- and 10th-graders who had failed the exams in previous years. This year, 71 percent of eighth-graders passed the math test statewide and 68 percent passed the reading test.
How well students did this week won’t be known until September, but confidence was abundant at Central and other schools Tuesday.
“In February I wasn’t as focused as I am now,” Hammons said.
“I’ve to go home and study,” said Antuan Yancy, a ninth-grader at Como Senior High School. “I’m confident I’ll pass the test, but I still need to study some stuff.”
In Minneapolis and St. Paul alone, 4,439 students entering the ninth through 11th grades spent half of their summer vacations preparing for the two-day exam through intensive summer-school courses.
“This is a high-stakes test,” said Tom Murray, a coordinator of the Minneapolis summer session.
Nowhere are the stakes higher than in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where more than 9,200 students failed one or both tests in February.
“Our students are more prepared than they ever have been,” Murray said. “I expect students are going to come to the test with a confidence that’s going to push them up over the bar. And the ones that don’t pass will come close.”
As they closed their exam booklets Tuesday, students at Arlington High School seemed confident that they performed well on the reading test. And they said the summer sessions made a big difference.
“I think they taught us more than they do in regular school,” said Megan Neely, 14. “And the teachers are cool. They really give us individual attention.”