Throughout California today and tomorrow, sophomores will be taking the exit exam. This one-size-fits-all, high-stakes test (any other buzz words I need?) tests at most 8th grade math, and the test can be passed without getting any of the 8th grade questions correct, and at most 10th grade English skills.
Some people claim that since the standard is so low, we shouldn't give the test at all. I disagree. Passing this test means that students have passed one low hurdle to graduation. Getting the required number of units in the required courses (4 years of English, 2 years of math to include 8th grade Algebra 1, 2 years of PE, etc) is another hurdle. Yes, the hurdles are relatively low (a D- is passing in those courses) but ensuring at least a minimum standard is met doesn't seem unreasonable to me.
There was a big lawsuit about this test when it first became a graduation requirement, and our state Superintendent of Public Instruction fought for the test. I was so impressed with his fight, against his own political party and some powerful entrenched interests, that it formed the basis for my voting for him in the last election. His recent support for "we'll close the achievement gap by getting all those racist teachers to attend diversity training" has caused me buyer's remorse.
Three hours of testing today, and three hours tomorrow. Boring for a teacher. Important for California.