MADISON — University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents President Jay L. Smith today asked the Board’s Education Committee to study further the issue of requiring Wisconsin high school student applicants to demonstrate that they’ve taken a state or local graduation test prior to admission.

“There are so many questions about this,” said Smith, “and the public is confused about what our standard will be. We need to study this and clarify the issues.”

At its December meeting, the Board passed a resolution, in accordance with new state statutory requirements, stating that “after September 2003, students graduating from public high schools in Wisconsin will be required to provide evidence on their final transcript that they have taken all sections of the state-developed High School Graduation Test or the test adopted by their school board.”

In taking this action in December, however, the Regents made it clear that the Board could take further action before the test becomes a criterion for admission to UW institutions.

In asking the Education Committee to review this issue, Smith noted that the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is still developing the test. He said the content of the test will influence the board’s ultimate decision, and the university will confer closely with DPI in this matter.

“There are many other questions, as well,” said Smith. “What about students from other states or private high schools? What about returning adult students? Are students with learning disabilities properly addressed? What if a student, or a school district, opts out of taking the test, moves that would be permitted under the present statute?”

“Whatever we do,” said Smith, “we need to make sure that there is a level playing field for all our applicants.” He added that “Some legislators have indicated they are going to reopen the whole question of a high school graduation test.”

The Regent Education Committee will consider these questions and monitor the issues, reporting back to the full board in the fall.

“I’m afraid people across the state have read more into our action at the December meeting than we intended,” said Smith. “Only when these issues are resolved and some of these questions get answered from a state perspective, can we take any final action on admission requirements.”

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