Fire in the bathroom, exit exam interrupted

Yesterday morning, as Oakland citizens were exercising their right to vote, a couple of teenagers (who were later detained by police) celebrated Super Tuesday by starting a fire in a school bathroom.

The stunt might have caused little damage to the Fremont Federation facility, but it sure didn’t help those who were taking the state high school exit exam at the time. (Note: The photo below doesn’t look anything like the rooms in which Oakland students take the exam.)


An hour-long evacuation interrupted the test — a graduation requirement, which students have six chances to pass. I’ve heard that, once allowed back inside, the exam-takers were told they still needed to finish before the end of the school day. (Students are normally given the entire school day to complete it.)

Linda Hooper, from the state department of education’s exit exam division, tells me that unexpected complications — such as power outages or, say, fires — are handled on a case by case basis. She said most students finish the English part of the exam in about four or five hours, although some take longer.

But, she said, the end-of-the-school-day time constraint might change if a large number of students had not finished the test after an interruption. “We’re interested in the students taking the exam and succeeding,” Hooper said.

I called Troy Flint, the district’s spokesman, to confirm the details of the exit exam interruption. When he gets back to me, I’ll update the report.

Update: Robin Glover, principal of Mandela High School, one of the four small schools at Fremont Federation, said this morning that all of the students finished their exams despite the setback.

“They marched right back in. They were focused,” Glover said. “They had a mission, and it’s exactly how they tackled it.”

image from halfcrazed’s site on flickr.com/creativecommons

Katy Murphy

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

  • Caroline

    My 11th-grader, a San Francisco public school student, took the SAT a couple of weeks ago at a Catholic high school, Riordan. The adults advised the test-takers that there was no heat and urged them to keep their jackets on. My son actually likes cold, but one of his classmates was badly bothered by it and is requesting a do-over. A Riordan student told my son the heat has been out for month. Naturally, all of us SFUSD parents exclaimed, “I thought that only happened in public school!”

    No word yet on whether my son’s classmate, or other students who complained, will get a do-over on the SAT.

  • teacher

    You can take the SAT as many times as you want. Do you mean a refund? That would be a lot easier to get…

    They usually offer the SAT once a month.

  • Caroline

    I think she wanted a free redo (and her scores on this one scrapped).

  • Teacher

    You’re right … that photo looks nothing like the Fremont Federation room in which my students took their exam. The 40-year-old “temporary” portable has no windows because they’ve been plywooded shut after an attempted break-in last month. There is mold on the ceiling and a mildew odor. The floor has a hump in it from the rot below. Several fluorescent lights are out or flickering.

    My students actually reported that they were happy to have the building evacuated and an hour reprieve from the exit exam. They said it gave them a chance to get some fresh air during the all day test and to clear their minds.