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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106

Massachusetts One of Nine States to Offer Voluntary Algebra II Exam

"Gatekeeper" Subject Seen As Critical Predictor of College Readiness

MALDEN - Massachusetts is one of nine states that have joined forces to launch a new, common assessment test in Algebra II as a way to gauge student readiness for college.

The test will be administered in Massachusetts for the first time in 2008 on a voluntary basis to any high school student who has completed Algebra II. Education officials say the results will help determine how well prepared students are – or are not - for college.

In addition to Massachusetts, the American Diploma Project (ADP) Secondary Math Partnership includes Ohio, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The project is an initiative of the ADP Network, a group of 29 states committed to preparing all students for the demands of college and the workplace.

"It is no longer enough to strive just to graduate from high school; students today need to aim higher and start preparing for college and beyond long before graduation day," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "This assessment will help us determine who is ready for college, and help us identify those who are not yet prepared in time to provide them with the extra help they need before they leave high school."

Chancellor of Higher Education Patricia Plummer agreed.

"Students who enter our colleges unprepared for the rigor of higher education are more likely to require remediation when they get there, and less likely to graduate," she said. "This test will help us on both fronts."

Algebra II is one of several "gatekeeper" courses in high school that research indicates can be a significant predictor of college-readiness and success. Two landmark studies conducted by the U.S. Department of Education have indicated that the highest level of math taken in high school is the most powerful predictor of whether a student will ultimately earn a bachelors degree, and that students completing Algebra II in high school more than doubled their chances of earning a four-year college degree.

This partnership marks the largest effort a group of states has ever undertaken to develop a common assessment test based on common standards. The test represents a promising new model for multi-state reform efforts at a time when the overall lackluster achievement of high school students has helped fuel debates about the creation of national standards and extending No Child Left Behind to high schools.

"The states in this initiative have shown real leadership," said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve. "By pooling their human and financial resources to create common tools, they are freeing up time and energy to focus on the additional steps necessary to improve achievement."

The ADP Network, formed by Achieve at the 2005 National Education Summit on High Schools, helps states align high school standards, assessments, curriculum and accountability with the demands of college and work. Achieve provides policy leadership, technical assistance and other support to the ADP Network states. It will assist the states in the ADP Secondary Math Partnership by supporting development of the test, providing an annual report comparing the performance of participating states, and helping the states share and develop tools and strategies for improving teaching and learning in high school math.

The test is being developed and will be owned by Pearson Educational Measurement of Iowa City. It will be based on standards developed by Achieve's member states as part of its work to create and support the ADP Network.

Last Updated: April 10, 2007
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