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Poll Shows Alaskans Support KeepingExit Exam by 3-1 Margin


JUNEAU – A recent Dittman public opinion poll commissioned by Sen. Con Bunde, R-Anchorage, shows that 74 percent of Alaskans support keeping the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam, also known as the exit exam. Currently there is a bill in the Legislature that would repeal the exit exam.

Bunde, who authored the original exit exam language when it was passed into law in 1997, said the Dittman poll results clearly indicate that the public still supports the exam as a way to ensure that possessing a high school diploma means graduates can demonstrate basic competency in reading, writing and arithmetic.

<>“Currently in the Senate, there is, in my view, a misguided effort to do away with the high school graduation qualifying exam. This poll shows that three-quarters of the people of Alaska do not want it to go away,” Bunde said. “That’s a pretty substantial level of support.”

Bunde said the idea to do away with the test is rooted in a well-intended push by some groups representing students who have had a difficult time passing the exam.

<>“Last year there were 8,008 graduates who passed the exit exam and received a high school diploma. At the same time there were 270 high school seniors who were unable to pass the exit exam, and therefore received a certificate of attendance,” Bunde said. “So, the question is, should we dilute the value of the diploma for the thousands who passed it just to accommodate the few who do not?  I don’t think we should, and clearly, almost three-quarters of the Alaska public don’t think we should, either.”

The Dittman poll was conducted February 9-22, 2010. The bill to repeal the exit exam, SB 109, recently passed out of the Senate Education and the Community and Regional Affairs committees and is currently sitting in the Senate Finance Committee.

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