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SPRINGFIELD - A business group is unhappy with an Illinois State Board of Education plan to make it easier for eighth-graders to meet state math standards.

The Illinois Business Roundtable, which is a coalition of 68 business leaders, argues that this will put students at a disadvantage in the long run.

"You have to know less. You don't have to learn as much," said Jennifer Ross, the group's director of education policy. "Math, science and technology are fields that as a nation, the U.S. is competing with other countries and falling behind."

The organization estimates that the lowered minimum score needed for meeting state standards will allow an additional 32,000 students to pass the test.

The state board unanimously approved lowering the score needed by students to meet state standards for eighth-grade math last week. The new requirement is closer to the national average and has been under review for several months, said Meta Minton, an ISBE spokeswoman.

"It's just to make it a fairer test," she said. "It is not a dumbing down. This wasn't a slap-dash thing we came up with. We heard it from people in the field from the top to the bottom of the state."

The move comes as federal law requires the state to expand the grades that must be tested on reading and math in all grades from third through eighth. Before the new federal mandate, schools only did the testing for third, fifth and eighth grades.

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