Monday, October 03, 2005

More California School Madness

I've written several times on various issues with CA schools, but I think this article really highlights a lot of the problems: 20% of Seniors Flunk High School Graduation Exam

Nearly 100,000 California 12th graders — or about 20% of this year's senior class — have failed the state's graduation exam, potentially jeopardizing their chances of earning diplomas, according to the most definitive report on the mandatory test, released Friday.

Students in the class of 2006, the first group to face the graduation requirement, must pass both the English and math sections of the test by June.

The exit exam — which has come under criticism by some educators, legislators and civil rights advocates — is geared to an eighth-grade level in math and to ninth- and 10th-grade levels in English.

Wow. That's a lot. Wait a minute...geared to an eighth-grade level in math and ninth and tenth in English? This highlights a problem I have with many schools. We don't want to lower standards just to pass more people...that's not fair to those who have done the extra work. We work to raise those to the standards. A diploma is earned.

There's several snippets I could quote and discuss, but I feel there is only one that warrents attention:

Los Angeles High School senior D'Janay O'Neal had another complaint. She said she freezes up on the math portion of the test because "math has never been my strong suit."

D'Janay, 17, said she passed the English section on the first try but has failed the math part three times. She is taking an extra remedial math class this semester to help her pass the test, in addition to her Algebra II class and two Advanced Placement courses. She said she has a 2.0 grade point average.

"I am totally freaking out that I may not graduate," said D'Janay, who attended a rally against the exit exam this week in a park next to her high school.

"No matter what happens, I'm going to college because I need college to further my education," she said.

While I commend her dedication to going to college, I worry about how she sees things. In particular, a lesson I learned while taking Calculas in college: Colleges will flunk you if you do not meet their requirements. If you cannot pass a standardized test set to the eighth-grade level, you are not ready for college.


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