Another attempt to scrap Mississippi U.S. History exam is in the works

Another attempt to scrap Mississippi U.S. History exam is in the works

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If at first you don’t succeed, try again. That’s one way to describe what’s happening.

Mississippi requires high schoolers to take four subject area tests: English, algebra, biology and U.S. History. The U.S. History test is the only one of that is not required by the federal government or state law and several folks are working to find a way to scrap the test.

The question of whether students are tested too much generates a lot of feedback.

Those concerns made it all the way through one process only to be stopped at the end. Rep. Tom Miles has made those public outcries part of the conversation at the Capitol in recent years.

“The students don’t want it, the principals don’t want it," said Miles. "But Mississippi Department of Education seems to think they know better than teachers that are already in the classroom everyday.”

Miles is referring to the testing task force that was formed. They polled teachers to find out if they thought the U.S. History test should stay as a graduation requirement. Task force member Kelly Riley made this note.

“I think a lot of educators feel like their concerns have just been set aside," said Riley. "Multiple surveys repeatedly showed that basically a three-to-one response was eliminate the assessment. It’s not necessary. It would free up funds. It will lessen the focus and stress related to assessments.”

So, we asked... what’s next?

“Myself and other legislators plan to file bills this year to do away with the United States History test,” explained Miles.

Despite the recommendation of the task force, the State Board of Education voted to keep the U.S. History test.

A release from the Department of Education said members expressed concern that the removal of the assessment could lessen the importance of U.S. History in schools. Miles makes this note:

“We’re not trying to eliminate U.S. History," Miles said. "We’re not trying to eliminate any kind of history classes. We want to actually let history teachers teach history and not have to teach to that standardized test.”

If the legislature votes to approve a bill to do away with the U.S. History exam, that path would not need approval by the State Board of Education.

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