More than half of the state's 2,220 high school seniors barred from graduation because they can't pass the math exam will get their diplomas after all -- courtesy of a legislative deal.
Assembly Majority Leader Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said the two houses have agreed to reduce the percentage needed to pass the math proficiency exam back to what it was two years ago.
"This isn't dumbing down the exam," she said.
Buckley said the problem is that lawmakers made the math test mandatory for those who want a high school diploma, but some school districts never made the math classes needed to pass the test mandatory.
"It appears some of the school districts haven't done all they can to adjust the curriculum to meet the tests," Buckley said.
She said that left 2,220 students who have all the credits needed to graduate and who have met every other requirement unable to get a diploma because they couldn't pass the test.
"They had As and Bs in everything but they weren't required to take the algebra and geometry you need to pass this," she said.
She said moving the requirement back to what it was before October 2002 means 1,325 of those students already have passing grades. That leaves just 895 students who were unable to get a diploma because of the math test -- less than 5 percent of the total graduating this year.
The legislation also says all the students in that situation can go through the graduation ceremonies with their friends while the school districts are figuring out which of them passed and which didn't.
The deal was worked out by Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, and Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno. She said it was part of the deal with the Senate in which the Assembly agreed to back off changes it made two days ago in kindergarten funding.
Raggio said it was "very distressing" to find out the schools haven't required students to take the math needed to pass the mandatory proficiency test.
"We were assured by the districts that the curriculum had been adapted to the standards," he said. "But now we're told the students who failed had not been taught those courses."
Buckley said school districts are being instructed to change their requirements so that everyone takes the number and types of math classes needed to pass the test. Meanwhile, the standard for passing will be raised back up over the next four years.