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The Embattled Profile of Learning
by Tim Pugmire
February 24, 2000
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The House Education Policy Committee has begun working on legislation to alter the Profile of Learning graduation standards. Committee members heard presentations on ten separate Profile bills with plans to reduce them to one by the end of next week.

A WEEK AFTER a surprise House vote to dump the Profile of Learning, members of the Education Policy Committee took a more deliberate look at ways they might improve the controversial system. The 10 bills before the committee range from modest adjustments and clarifications to replacing the show-what-you-know system with a back-to-the-basics approach.

Representative Bob Ness says his bill is a compromise plan for addressing many of the complaints from teachers, students and parents. The Dassel Republican say he wants to delay implementation, give local district more flexibility and reduce the number of required standards.
Ness: This does not preclude those districts who want to go ahead who are ahead of the minimum number. But if this thing isn't going to die of its own weight, we've got to have a base level that's a little lower threshold and still encourages districts to proceed.
Republican Representative Sondra Erickson proposes a similar approach. The high school teacher from Princeton wants a Profile moratorium until an outside agency completes a thorough review of Minnesota's graduation standards, and until more support is provided to teachers. Erickson is also seeking a Profile of Learning exemption for all charter schools.
Erickson: Forcing the Profile of Learning, for example one-size-fits-all, on a charter school at this time would not be appropriate, would destroy some of that uniqueness that charter schools want to bring forth to their student bodies and offer their teachers as the charter schools continue to develop in our state.
Teachers and school administrators throughout the state have been offering ideas for fixing the Profile of Learning. DFL Representative Leslie Schumacher borrowed one of those proposals for her bill. The plan from the Eden Valley-Watkins School District would reduce the 24 required standards by about one-third and allow for changes to the numeric grading system. Schumacher urged her colleagues to keep open minds as they seek a solution.
Schumacher: Our governor, as a strong supporter of the graduation standards, has vowed to veto any repeal as well as any attempt to disable this education reform. And I think that's a critical point all of us need to keep in mind as we move forward because we must work together to fix these problems for the sake of our students, as well as the sake of our professionals in the classroom.
The committee's chairman, Republican Representative Harry Mares is also looking for common ground. Mares urged members to do what is best for the students of Minnesota, and consider what might pass the Legislature.
Mares: I realize that things will be put onto a bill that maybe the chair doesn't even like. At the same time I hope that what is put in the bill is items that we can deal with and negotiate with the Senate.
Last year, the House passed a bill to scrap the Profile. But Senate supporters of the Profile held up the issue in conference committee and no changes were made. DFL Senator Pogemiller says his K-12 Education Committee is willing to make some changes to the Profile of Learning this year.
Pogemiller: We're going to pass a bill to help with implementation, provide some more professional development. I don't think the committee is going to decide to eliminate standards. I think the committee would think that's going backwards by about a decade.
The Senate K-12 Education Committee will hear brief presentations on Profile of Learning bills Friday. The House Education Policy Committee takes up the issue again next week, with public testimony scheduled for Tuesday and final committee action expected Thursday.