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Waiver of algebra end of course exam sought for A+ scholarship

by Anna Campbell | January 30, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

Algebra I End of Course exam requirements for the A+ scholarship could soon be eliminated.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development announced it will seek to repeat the waiver of the Algebra EOC requirement that began in 2020 under Gov. Mike Parson's emergency declaration.

Now that the emergency declaration has expired, MDHEWD is no longer able to continue the waiver, so it will seek approval from the Coordinating Board for Higher Education to file an emergency rule change to waive the requirement for students graduating in 2022. If the rule is approved by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and the secretary of state, it will take effect 10 days after filing and will remain in effect for 180 days.

According to the announcement, the purpose of the emergency rule is to move quickly on a policy that will later be made permanent through normal channels.

The move is in response to "a number of inquiries and concerns about the ability of some students in the 2022 senior class to meet all of the existing A+ eligibility criteria," the announcement said.

In 2020, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education decided not to offer EOCs, a key component of A+ eligibility. Although students can use ACT scores in place of EOCs, MDHEWD acknowledged "there has been substantial disruption to that system as well."

"Because of the fact that there are multiple cohorts of students that either were not required to take an EOC test or experienced issues with sitting for the tests, MDHEWD staff believe it is appropriate to continue this waiver for the 2022 seniors," the announcement said.

Although the first step is eliminating the requirement for this year's graduation class, MDHEWD would like to completely eliminate the Algebra I EOC requirement and the ACT score alternative for two reasons.

"First, since the 2024 high school seniors are probably the students that were most impacted by this disruption as they were the students for which the testing requirement was completely waived, another two years of waivers not covered by the emergency rule is appropriate," the announcement said. "Second, this requirement has historically created a barrier to accessing postsecondary education for a range of students."

MDHEWD plans to present a proposal to permanently eliminate the requirement to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education at its March 9 meeting.

The other requirements for the A+ scholarship would still be in place. Currently, those other requirements are: being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, signing up with the school, attending an A+ designated school for two years, graduating with a GPA of 2.5 or above, having 95 percent attendance, performing 50 hours of tutoring or mentoring and being a good citizen, and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

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