Dumbing down high school

The Class of 2010 is back to school in California. One in ten will fail the state’s high school exit exam and will not graduate with their peers.

The California Teachers Association – and the state lawmakers beholden to the powerful public teachers union – has long opposed the exit exam. They insist that it is wrong to withhold diplomas California’s high school seniors simply because they fail to pass the exam.

They also oppose school vouchers, which would enable the parents of students attending the worst public schools to enroll their children in private or parochial schools, where their childrten would have a considerable better chance of passing the high school exit exam.

This past summer, California’s Democrat-controlled Assembly proposed a four-year moratorium on the exit exam, supposedly to save the fiscally-challenged state money. Suspending the exam “makes good sense in a budget crisis and as good educational policy,” argued Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.

SAMPLE QUESTION

The cost of an afternoon movie ticket last year was $4.00. This year an afternoon movie ticket costs $5.00. What is the percent increase of the ticket from last year to this year?

 

A  10%

B  20%

C  25%

D  40%

Speaker Bass also cited a “disturbing” study from a Stanford University researcher, which found, she said, that the exit exam “has had a dramatic negative effect on the graduation rate of girls and on students of color.”

Well, excuse me. As the father of a “student of color,” I don’t see how a test that measures a high school senior’s proficiency in mathematics and English-language arts is negative in any way – except, that is, if that senior is unable to pass the test.

SAMPLE QUESTION

 Read this sentence from the article

 Help yourself to a daily vitamin and mineral supplement, and help yourself to improved health and longevity.

 What does this sentence mean?

 A  Helping other means encouraging them to take vitamins and minerals.

B  A large helping of vitamins and minerals is necessary for good health.

C  Taking vitamins and minerals is one way that people may help themselves.

D  Taking vitamins and minerals regularly will have a positive effect on a person’s health.

 And California’s exit exam hardly is a one-shot deal. High school students are given eight – count ’em eight – opportunities to pass the exam, beginning in the tenth grade.

In fact, 65 percent of California tenth graders manage to pass the exam. Not because they are young geniuses, but because the English portion of the exam tests on the tenth grade level and requires a 60 percent passing score, while the math portion is on an eight grade level and requires a mere 55 percent passing score.

Students that cannot pass California’s high school exit exam after eight attempts do not deserve a diploma, no matter their gender, no matter their race. That the state teachers union and its friends in the state Assembly are trying to get rid of the exam condemns “girls” and “students of color” to the soft bigotry of low expectations.

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This entry was published on September 9, 2009 at 11:08 AM and is filed under Education, Politics, Public Policy. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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