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California’s exit exam stays, despite class-action lawsuit

Some high school kids had hoped to eliminate California’s exit exam through a lawsuit filed last year, but it looks as though it’s here to stay. 

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, a champion of the two-part test, announced today that a settlement has been tentatively approved by a judge: The exit exam stays in place, but those who fail the test are entitled to two years of free academic help from their respective school districts.

The settlement won’t take effect unless the Senate and the governor approve it. The bill is AB 347, and the full text can be found on this site.

The summary of the resolution was pretty vague on what this academic instruction would look like. Students who need exit exam help already can enroll in community college, adult school or for an extra year of high school, so I’m not clear how they will benefit from the legislation. Maybe it’s supposed to provide more of a safety net for them.

I’m guessing that private pre-algebra tutoring at home is not in the works.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • James Jones, Jr., Parent, etc.

    Good. My only complaint is that the exam isn’t harder. I want to see students packed in our under-utilized Public Libraries, studying for this test. I want to see groups of students with backpacks full of books riding the bus on the weekends. I want to see Exit Exam test preparation workshops and Saturday-schools advertised on television. I want to see our high school students consumed with preparing themselves for this test. Where is the downside in that? If you travel outside the U.S., what you see is young people consumed with their education. It works in Japan and Germany and Korea and almost every industrialized nation.

  • Venus

    I have to agree with James Jones, Jr. The exam is actually quite easy. It’s almost criminal to give high school diplomas to students unable to pass this exam. And Mr. Jones is absolutely right: we need to really see students carrying their books around, reading them on buses and BART, there should be a concerted city-wide effort to help students pass. And the exam tests only two subject areas; English and math. It should test all the content areas, and should be ten times more challenging. And kids should start preparing in kindergarten. They have at least six chances to pass the test starting in the tenth grade. Failing a test six times is inexcusable. It shows that the student did not seek assistance or make any effort to pass after the first failure, or the third or the fourth.

    Other industrialized nations have far more rigorous exams for their secondary school diplomas. How shameful that most of our students can’t find other countries on a map. Sorry, but this may not be the right exam, but it’s so damned easy that failing it really does indicate that the students didn’t learn a thing.

  • hdaring4, Parent

    Holding secondary schools responsible for student performance beyond four years is a small step in the right direction for a long journey. Schools should be held responsible to educate students rather than to merely teach students. Too many teachers utilize assessment (quizzes and tests) for grading only; if a student performs poorly or fails a quiz or test the teacher should utilize the test results to guide supplementary instruction to assure the student masters the unit material. Understanding the student’s weaknesses and the followup supplementary instruction is a prime responsibility of the classroom teacher and vital for student success. Schools at all levels should be held responsible to continue to service those students the school fails to educate to mastery of the state curriculum standards. Grossly underperforming students should be serviced with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) that will assure their mastering of the K-12 state standards. Too many teachers teach to a roomful of students without educating them; too many administrators accept such low performance in so many students. Proficiency on the state STAR tests would be a better California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) than the present very easy test that several cannot pass. The colleges claim that as many as seventy percent of the highest performing high student graduates (those accepted into universities) need remedial instruction in reading, writing, and math because they cannot perform at the college level. The goal should be high standards, high proficiency, and well educated high school graduates.

  • James Jones, Jr., Parent, etc.

    The question I have been asking is: HOW DOES AN UNDER-PERFORMING STUDENT GET PROMOTED TO THE NEXT GRADE? or put another way: If a 3rd grader takes the STAR exam and tests Far Below Basic (lowest score) in Math and Reading, why does he get promoted to the next grade? And yet another way: How does a poor unsuspecting 12th Grade English Teacher end-up with a room full of kids with 6th grade Reading-levels?