Tuesday, February 05, 2008

High School Exit Exam

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.


Anonymous said...

I'll be showing up late today :P

Ellen K said...

Probably the least thankful job we have is proctering standardized tests. There are so many rules and so many interpretations of those rules. In some districts, teachers must stand and be constantly moving. We can't read, can't work on the computer, can't do anything. I draw the students, but don't tell anyone. It's mind numbing. I hate it. If I thought I could get away with it, I would ditch. But unfortunately, I am also now one of the most "experienced" test givers on campus, having given AP tests as well as TAKS. So they always steer me to the lead teacher spot. It's awful.

Dr Pezz said...

What exceptions or allowances are given for students new to the country, students new to the English language, or students with special needs?

This is a debate beginning in my state, and I'm curious what is done in California.

Darren said...


Plenty of information there, including Legal Updates, FAQs, and Accommodations and Modifications.

Sorry to do that, but it's better to get the information from the source than to tell you what I *think* is the correct answer.

Ellen K said...

Lucky you. All of our kids except the most disabled, will take TAKS. Even our "Bridging" kids who read on perhaps a fourth grade level will take a test that has the exact same questions as the other students, just with larger type. Fair, isn't it?

Dr Pezz said...

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out. This is an issue I wobble on.