High school seniors who flunk the controversial state exit exam may be able to graduate next month anyway, according to a judge's tentative ruling issued late Monday.
Setting the stage for heated debate in court today between supporters
and opponents of the California High School Exit Exam, Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman said he is likely to rule that the test cannot take effect this year as scheduled.
The statement comes as tens of thousands of seniors sit down to retake
the test today and Wednesday, their final chance before most schools are
scheduled to hold graduation ceremonies.
They've had *how many* opportunities?
Students first take the exit exam as sophomores. If they fail, they have five
more chances to pass by the end of their senior year. The majority of students in the class of 2006 passed the first time they took the test....
So much for that canard. And the test is at a 7th/8th grade level for math and up to a 10th grade level for English, and students can score less than 60% on both sections and still "pass". Why would anyone want to give a diploma to people who can't pass such a test? Who, truly, would be served by granting such a diploma?
Supporters of the exit exam have argued that the test will create more equality in the schools because it holds everyone to the same standard. Without an exit exam, they say, there's no way to assure that all graduates have mastered the most basic skills.
Further, the test allows teachers to identify students who are lagging and steer them into extra math and English classes, said Jack O'Connell, the state superintendent of schools.
"To me the irony ... is they will receive less help and less attention if the (exit exam) is not in place for 2006," O'Connell said. "That's not in the best interests of this state, nor in the best interests of the students in California."
I like Jack O'Connell. If he keeps this up, I'll be voting for him if he runs for reelection. And he's a Democrat. And O'Connell has a vested interest in this test:
O'Connell wrote the legislation creating the exit exam as a state senator in 1999. The test originally was to take effect for the class of 2004. The State
Board of Education postponed it in 2003, saying schools needed a couple more years to prepare students for the test.
O'Connell vowed not to back down. He said the state will appeal an unfavorable ruling.
And the governor agrees with him:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement Monday night
condemning the tentative ruling and any delay in implementing the exit exam.
"We owe our children, especially our disadvantaged and minority students, a good education and the tools they need in college and in the workplace," he said. "The purpose of the exit exam is to ensure that our schools are meeting their obligation to our students by providing them with the most basic skills they will need in life."
Obviously what we have here is yet another judge letting his personal views stand in the way of the will of the people.