Virginia high school students in 1981 will be required to pass ninth-grade-level math and reading tests in order to graduate, according to a plan adopted yesterday by the State Board of Education.
The board approved the plan despite the objections of Dr. Allix B. James, president of predominantly black Virginia Union University who said the tests might be culturally biased and might fail a disproportionate number of black students.
Board members said they approved the testing plans with the understanding that they could make changes in the tests if they are discovered to have cultural bias. The test questions have yet to be formulated.
The plans approved yesterday call for the first tests to be given next fall to 10th grade students throughout the [TEXT OMITTED SOURCE]
Students who fail the tests will have a chance to take them again in the 11th and 12th grades, while those who pass will be considered to have met the minimum competency requirement.
If black students fail in disproportionate numbers, the result could be resegretation, since the failing students will be sent to remedial classes, James said.
But Josephine Baker, chairman of the advisory committee that recommended the minimum standards, said every effort will be taken to eliminate any cultural bias in the tests.
Among the skills to be tested are multiplication and division of fractions, determining distances on a map, following directions on a lable for use of a product, determining if an article represents factual information or opinion and solving practical problems dealing with banking, consumer purchases and personal earnings.
Virginia is one of 36 states, including Maryland, that have adopted or are considering adopting minimum standards as a condition of high school graduation.