Minimum competency testing1 has been described as the "next major reform movement in American education." It also has been described as the "Great American Fad of the 1970's." The call for a minimum competency test requirement for graduation from high school resulted from increasing public concern about rising illiteracy rates and declining standardized test scores. This concern has created a "back to basics" trend in education, with a concurrent emphasis on educational accountability. This was the point at which most state legislatures entered the process by enacting accountability statutes. The competency tests are an aspect of this accountability. They are an examination of the student's "competence," but they are also an examination of the quality of education the student has received. Virginia responded to the demand for some standard of educational measurement by enacting an accountability statute through the General Assembly and by revising the standards for public school accreditation through the State Board of Education. The effect of these actions and later revisions was to require minimum competency in certain areas as a prerequisite for high school graduation. The testing program in Virginia has received little attention, while most of the current emphasis has been on the Florida program." Florida was an early entrant in the field, and its program can be used to some extent to gauge the legal and the educational effects of minimum competency testing.
Mary G. Commander,
Minimum Competency Testing: Education or Discrimination?,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol14/iss4/6