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Math test changes hinder progress Understandable to postpone, but raising expectations is far more advisable

The state Board of Regents' decision to delay until 2007-08 the mandated use of a substantially improved math test, because schools have not adequately prepared students for the exam, is disappointing, however understandable.

Some urban districts apparently had difficulty preparing for quicker implementation of the new math test because of a lack of qualified teachers. B. Jason Brooks of the Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability aptly described the situation as due to unacceptable bureaucratic delays.

To their credit, the regents insist that professional development and training be well under way so there cannot be any further excuses when the time does come -- two academic years away -- to implement the new test.

Granted, education officials have reason to be concerned about math comprehension among students. A couple of years ago, high failure rates prompted state Education Commissioner Richard Mills to dismiss the Math A test right after it was given. The interim replacement test also caused problems, though it was an improvement since 2003. The state ordered the exam to be re-graded in June after teachers scoring a test said it was too hard.

The new math setup moves some of the algebra now in Math A to seventh and eighth grade. Without that knowledge, students will not be able to be successful in high school, state officials contend. With only 25 percent of the districts having done the professional development to implement the new standards in the seventh and eighth grades, it caused concern about implementing an algebra program next year.

Compromise was necessary to help schools with a clear target reach their goals. That's an acceptable excuse -- for now.

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