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Guinea Pig Kids
An inside look at Minnesota's graduation standards experiment

The Effect on Kids and Parents |The Effect on Teachers/Administrators | History/Philosophy

See how well you do at answering some sample questions from the basic skills math and reading test. And show what you know about the standards.

Learn the new jargon.

On the Air
Audio from the shows.

Profiles of the schools featured in our series.

Links and stuff.


INNESOTA is two years away from requiring its high school graduates to meet a new set of standards to earn their diplomas. The standards, which include basic skills tests and a unique set of performance assessments called the Profile of Learning, have been the subject of considerable debate in recent years. This year, education commissioner Christine Jax and the teachers union, Education Minnesota, are asking the Legislature to postpone full implementation of the Profile for two years. Others may propose scrapping the Profile altogether.

Most reporting on the standards has focused on the debate in political arenas, so Minnesota Public Radio sent a trio of reporters into high schools to observe how teachers, parents and, most of all, students are coping with the graduation standards. Over the course of five months they found successes and problems, but perhaps most telling, they found a pervasive sense of confusion and uncertainty reflected in a phrase that came up repeatedly - "guinea pig kids."


The Profile Philosophy
The Profile of Learning, once an idea, is finally finding its way into Minnesota's classrooms as a curriculum. How is it transforming the classes at school?
Read | Listen

The Birth of the Guinea Pig Curriculum
Supporters say the new standards raise the rigor of education in the state. Critics say the only thing they raise is the level of bureaucracy.
Read | Listen

Stalemate over Profile Looms in Legislature
A proposed delay over implementing the Profile of Learning leads some educators to believe nothing will be done.
Read | Listen

The Effect on Kids and Parents

Inside a Performance Package
Many teachers find the state-written packages difficult to work with. Some students question the point.
Read | Listen

The First Test
Thousands of seniors have repeatedly failed the math or reading basic-standards exams, and are now in danger of not getting their diplomas.
Read | Listen

One Size Fits All?
The number of recent immigrants and special-education students is growing in Minnesota. A high school diploma may still remain out of reach for many of them.
Read | Listen

What It's Worth
Employers and college admissions officials say they still need to know more before they can embrace the change in Minnesota's education system.
Read | Listen

The Effect on Teachers/Administrators

The Debate Within
A debate is going on in school districts around the state where the new standards are more than a political issue, they're a fact of life.
Read | Listen

Make Way for Standards
So-called "performance packages" can take weeks to teach, forcing teachers to bypass large chunks of curricula.
Read | Listen

Profile's Growing Pains
The task of implementing the graduation standards is creating difficulties for students, teachers and parents.
Read | Listen

Profile of a Burden
Teachers throughout Minnesota complain about the additional work mandated by the new graduation standards. But it seems a little more burdensome for those in smaller districts.
Read | Listen


News Editors - Bill Wareham, Mike Edgerly
Reporters - Jim Bickal, Cara Hetland, Tim Pugmire
Online News Editor - Bob Collins
Site Design - Ahree Lee
Research - Betsy Cole
Senior VP of News - Bill Buzenberg
VP New Media - Jon McTaggart
Exec. Dir.,Civic Journalism Initiative - Leonard Witt


CPB Major funding for Minnesota Public Radio's regional Internet activities
is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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