Thursday, May 11, 2006

Exit Exams

It's not like the State of California has high expectations for its graduating high school seniors. The Exit Exam only demands a "middle school" math level and 10th Grade English. There is no testing on U.S. History or Government. No complicated Geometry. No science of any sort, whatsoever. No computer proficiency. Frankly, the Exit Exam leaves out more than it requires.

And it's not like the students don't have a lot of chances.

DD#1 took the exam as a sophomore and passed on her first try. Her opinion is that DD#2, a lowly 7th Grader, could pass the exam today. (In fact, one of the questions we parents had was if the kids pass the exam, how do we convince them they still need to stay in school?)

DD#1's class, the Class of 2005, was supposed to be the first class to have to pass the test in order to graduate. However, The Powers That Be (mostly the judiciary on behalf of the Teachers Union) decided that there had not been "enough time" to prepare the students adequately for the test, even though the Class of 2004 had taken the test as freshmen to try it out. And the fact that these students have had to take a standardized state test (STAR) every year since second grade.

If you don't pass the test as a sophomore, you can take it again. You can take special classes in summer school--by law, school districts have to offer them. You can take the test twice more as a junior and three times as a senior. You only need to pass the math portion by 55%. English is a little tougher: that standard is 60%.

90% of the Class of 2006 has passed. But that's not good enough in this "must-protect-the-child's-self-esteem-at-all-costs" society.

As Debra Saunders points out in her column in today's San Francisco Chronicle: "At issue is the larger question of whether schools exist to make children learn or to make children feel good. If Freedman decides that undereducated students can graduate because it's not fair to deny them a diploma, Sacramento might as well give up on improving the schools."

I wonder if it would make any difference to the editorial writers to point out that children who can't read don't buy newspapers?