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The Mississippi Board of Education has voted to discontinue the Basic Skills Assessment Program, which was mandated in the state's landmark 1982 education-reform act.

Originally, the test was required for students in grades 3, 5, and 8. Last year, the state board voted to drop grades 3 and 8 from the program to save some $400,000. The state's 5th graders are scheduled to take the test for the final time next month.

State officials said the test measured only very basic skills in reading, writing, and mathematics, and that students in the state have made such progress in those areas that the test is no longer needed.

The Mississippi Federation of Teachers had been critical of the test and said it was pleased that it had been scrapped.

State Superintendent of Schools Richard Thompson appointed a 14-member testing task force in January that is charged with reviewing the state's overall testing program. That committee is expected to make its final recommendations this fall.

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