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Title:Factors Underlying Local Education Agency Decisions to Adopt or Reject the Use of a Minimum Competency Test as a Requirement for High School Graduation
Author(s):Kerins, C. Thomas
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Administration
Abstract:There is a concern by many educators as well as the general public that somehow education is not working. The solution by some school districts has been to implement a minimum competency test--a test which purports to declare on a pass-fail basis the acquisition of a competency or skill to a predetermined minimum standard--and tie the results of that test to graduation from high school. This study documents the characteristics of Illinois districts that have chosen to tie a minimum competency test (MCT) to high school graduation and the reasons of key decision makers in these districts as well as the characteristics of those districts that have rejected the opportunity to tie a minimum competency test to high school graduation and the reasons of their representatives.
In Phase I a discriminant analysis ascertained the characteristics of both types of districts and then picked ten districts for the follow up phase. In Phase II interviews were conducted with administrators and board members in five districts that had chosen to tie a test to graduation and five that had chosen not to do so. The interview questions explored the district's program--its origins, objectives, the prime movers, the perceived benefits of the MCT or other alternatives program. The final product of this study is the explanation posited from the combination of characteristics and reasons.
The discriminant analysis indicated that district representatives who chose to tie an MCT to high school graduation came from large urban districts with a board policy already in existence and with at least a quarter of the student population minority pupils. In fact, the ratio of black students to the district's total student population and the existence of a local board approved policy on testing were the strongest variables.
The reason why some districts rushed toward an MCT approach tied to graduation depended on the blend of district personality, tradition, resources, and constraints as the issue of student progress was reviewed. Districts with a "negative" personality and less in control were willing to put the burden on the student for slippage in standards, less concerned about pushing students out early because of a test, more inclined to restrict educational opportunity for minorities than to broaden it, and were less concerned with students' gain in knowledge than the image to the community that there has been a significant gain.
Issue Date:1982
Description:155 p.
Thesis (Educat.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8209594
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1982

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