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Negotiators strike deal to abolish Profile

St. Paul, Minn. — (AP) Monday may be Judgment Day for the much-maligned Profile of Learning education standards.

After reaching a late-night deal on a repeal and replacement proposal, a House-Senate committee worked into Saturday morning to polish the compromise plan that would finally do away with the Profile. Committee leaders hope to put it before the full Legislature on Monday.

The show-what-you-know Profile has been a target of lawmakers since it was implemented statewide in 1998, but annual attempts to dump it have always hit snags.

Sen. Steve Kelley and Rep. Alice Seagren, the Senate and House chief negotiators, said the dynamics are different this year.

"The will exists in the executive branch and both bodies to complete the repeal," Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, said during a recess called at 2 a.m. to give lawyers a chance to work out a few kinks in the bill.

Kelley and Seagren, R-Bloomington, spent most of Friday in meetings with officials from Gov. Tim Pawlenty's administration and emerged just before midnight presenting a united front.

The deal would establish statewide standards for language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and the arts. The social studies standards would cover history, geography, economics, government and citizenship. And districts could design their own arts standards if they didn't want to use the state's version.

The language arts and math standards could be ready to go for classrooms this fall. Those for other subjects would come later.

The standards would be supported by grade-level benchmarks detailing specific facts and concepts the state wants public school children to know by the end of each grade. Final drafts of math and language arts standards are to be released Monday.

New state tests would be designed to align with the overhauled academic standards. The tests would be confined to language arts, math and science.

Additionally, districts would have to draw up their own elective standards in health and physical education, vocational and technical education, and world languages.

Profile politics is always unpredictable, and there's a chance the deal could still go sour.

The Maple River Education Coalition, an active and influential lobbying group on the Profile, faulted the compromise.

"This bill does not take us away from the political football or from the philosophy of the Profile of Learning," the coalition's Julie Quist told the panel. "In its present form, our organization cannot recommend this bill."

Quist said it continues to place emphasis on how students learn instead of restricting the standards to what students learn.

Another critic said the bill improperly elevates arts to the level of other core subjects by making them a state requirement in all districts.

Under the plan, elementary and middle school students would need to meet requirements in two of four arts topics: visual arts, music, drama or dance courses. Besides those topics, high school students could also choose from mixed media courses to satisfy their arts requirement.

Kelley and Seagren defended the inclusion, citing research that found art classes helped foster learning in other subjects. "It is a great stimulation for kids to be engaged in at school," Seagren said.

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