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Old 02-09-2006, 07:09 AM   #1
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Students, Parents Sue CA Over High School Exit Exam

Deja vu........?
Quote:
Lawsuit filed over exit exam

by JULIET WILLIAMS
The Associated Press
February 9, 2005



SACRAMENTO — A group of high school seniors and their parents filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the state Department of Education and school Superintendent Jack O’Connell, claiming the California high school exit exam is illegal and discriminatory.

Lead attorney Arturo Gonzalez said the lawsuit likely will expand to represent tens of thousands of students who have met all local requirements to graduate except passing both parts of the test. "Many students in California have not been given a fair opportunity to learn the material on the exam,” Gonzalez said. “These are good kids who have worked hard for 13 years to pass their courses. For the very first time we are telling them they do not get a diploma unless they pass an exit exam. We think that is unfair, we think it's unwise and we think it is illegal."

Students in the class of 2006 are the first required to pass the two-part English and math test to receive a diploma. At the start of this school year, about 100,000 seniors had not passed at least one of the sections — more than one-fifth of the state’s roughly 450,000 high school seniors. State officials have said they do not have updated figures, but they believe the number is much lower now.

Gonzalez said the state failed to study alternatives for students who could not pass the test, particularly English-learners, as the legislation required when lawmakers approved the exam in 1999. The lawsuit also claims the state is denying some students their fundamental right to an equal education.

It was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, and names 10 students and their parents as plaintiffs. Defendants also include the state of California and the state Board of Education.

Liliana Valenzuela, a plaintiff and a senior at Richmond High School in the San Francisco Bay area, has a 3.84 grade-point average and is 12th in her class of 413, according to the lawsuit. She said she passed the math portion of the test on her first try but has been unable to pass the English section. “I have been working really hard to go to college,” Valenzuela said Wednesday during a news conference. “I have been on the honor roll for the last four years. ... I really wanted to wear my cap and gown.”

"Basically this test stands for, 'Go to school for four years, work hard, stay out of trouble, get passing grades, but, by the way, if you don't pass, all your efforts stood for nothing,' " said Nora Sellman, whose son Alex has repeatedly failed the math portion of the exam.

But Carolina Burachek, 15, a junior at Rio Linda High School in Rio Linda, a Sacramento suburb, said schools need a way to measure whether students are prepared for college. "They have to set a standard for everybody. ... You can’t have a certain test for one person but a different one for someone else,” said Burachek, who passed both sections on her first try.

Gonzalez said he will seek a court injunction to delay the consequences of the exam for students in this year’s class. The lawsuit argues that the state has no compelling reason to deny students their diplomas and that doing so serves no public interest.

Department of Education spokeswoman Hilary McLean said she had no immediate comment on the lawsuit because department officials had not seen it. "We would argue that it’s more unfair to hand them a diploma that doesn’t mean anything and doesn’t arm them with the skills and knowledge they’ll need,” McLean said. [ Yes, that's actually what the text reads...apparently some editor was snoozing on the job and missed the contradiction.--yolland]

Superintendent O’Connell, who helped write the exit exam legislation, said last month that he had considered alternative assessments for students who fail to pass the exam before deciding against them. The state held a public hearing in December to take comments on its options. O’Connell has said students who fail the exam can take another year of high school, get extra tutoring, enroll in summer school or attend community college until they pass. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger included $40 million for tutorial programs in his budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Earlier this month, the state settled another exit exam lawsuit by agreeing to give special education students a one-year waiver on the requirement.

Nationwide, 23 states have graduation exams and four more are phasing them in by 2012, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy. Most states offer options for students with special needs and those who are learning English, center president Jack Jennings said. Nearly all have confronted the same problems as California.

Jennings said if states want to test students in English, they’ll have to do a better job teaching it. "We’ll have to find some way to teach everybody English, including those who just come into the country from another country,” he said. “Otherwise, it makes no sense. How would you like to be tested in Armenian if you don’t know Armenian?”

He said most states want to make the academic standards and the exams more rigorous, but most only measure at about a 10th-grade level. California’s exam tests 10th-grade English, ninth-grade math and level-one algebra. Students need to answer 60 percent of the questions correctly to pass each section.

Carlos Legaspi, a senior at Rio Linda High whose family emigrated from Mexico when he was a child, said he can understand how the test might be hard for students who don’t speak English. But he said it’s still a reasonable expectation, especially because most schools have tutoring programs available. Legaspi said he passed both sections on his first try. "I don’t know how it discriminates,” he said. “It’s just a test.”
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Old 02-09-2006, 07:51 AM   #2
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Well I guess that it always is good that people want to make passing High School more worthless.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:55 AM   #3
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There's a lot more to it that just that.

Many special ed students are having great difficultly passing this thing. Their IEPs, which are Federal documents and supersede any state requirements, have accomodations written into them that the state was ignoring. The algebra portion of the test is extremely difficult and was put into place before many of the students were able to take the coursework to prepare them for the test. The students who are having difficulty with the English part of the test haven't been adequately prepared.

California has some of the most rigorous state standards in the country, and the lowest (or second lowest) financial committment to its students in the nation, when discussing per-student spending. Our class sizes are some of the highest in the nation.


(If any of this is spelled incorrectly, or is full of grammar errors, please forgive me. I was up very late watching some band kick some ass at the Grammies last night, and I had to get up at 5:30 this morning, which is late for me. Now I need to go get ready to shortchange, excuse me, I mean teach, thirty 10-, 11-, and 12-year olds in two grades.)
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Old 02-09-2006, 11:36 AM   #4
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California’s exam tests 10th-grade English, ninth-grade math and level-one algebra. Students need to answer 60 percent of the questions correctly to pass each section.
So, children in 12th grade must get at least a "D" on material that is tested at the 8th through 10th grade levels.

And this is unfair?
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Old 02-09-2006, 03:19 PM   #5
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Again, it's not that simple. Ask to see your child's math book. Elementary age children in California are asked to learn things that many of us didn't learn until junior high or even high school. "Eighth grade math" nowadays isn't what is was when you took it. My sixth graders are learning things I was never required to learn. Many professionals who use math on a daily basis have questioned the need for mastery of algebra at this level of difficulty. And, again, the CAHSEE was instituted and required in the middle of the career of many of these students; they weren't adequately prepared.
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Old 02-09-2006, 03:44 PM   #6
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I am well aware of the "cram down" of subject matter in California.

But I'm not sure what it has to do with what we learned in junior high or high school.

Are children being tested on material to which they haven't been exposed? As I looked into the subject, it appears that 10th grade understanding is the upper limit for the 12th grade exam.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:06 PM   #7
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It seems odd that a student who has been on the honor roll for 4 years can't pass a 10th grade English test.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:16 PM   #8
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I had this already to go, then the site wouldn't load. I hope my copy and paste job works.


Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
As I looked into the subject, it appears that 10th grade understanding is the upper limit for the 12th grade exam.
Again, the 10th grade label may be misleading. My students are being required to learn things for which they are not developmentally ready. I believe that's part of the problem with the CAHSEE. Some of the students need more foundation; they learn at different speeds. We all do. Yet, the California frameworks are one-size fits all; all students will learn x information at the same pace. Sure, they've had the material taught to them, but whether or not they understood it, they're advanced onto the next level, because the extensive California state standards don't leave room for reteaching.

I'm not excusing the slackers, but the problem is so deep and widespread that it's more than just slackers. These requirements are extremely tough, much, much tougher than they were when we were in school; much, much tougher that the public realizes. The Special ed kids had to sue to regain their federally mandated rights.


Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Are children being tested on material to which they haven't been exposed?
Exposed is different than taught. And taught before the proper foundation has been laid was one of the initial complaints with the test. As we go on, more and more students will have the background for the advanced math required in high school. (I was just laying some of the foundation today. )



Not too bad. Read these in reverse order and there it is.
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Old 02-09-2006, 09:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by WildHoneyAlways
It seems odd that a student who has been on the honor roll for 4 years can't pass a 10th grade English test.
I agree.
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Old 02-09-2006, 11:39 PM   #10
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Weird. What is the point of these tests? What's the point of high school if all your school work, tests, papers, and projects don't actually matter? The only standardized tests I took in HS were the ACT twice and the MEAP test (something Michigan concocted to see where the public and private schools stack up. If you pass you get $2500 towards the Michigan college of choice). Also, what happens to the kids who go to alternative schools where only Spanish is spoken? Do they still have to pass this test in English? I guess I just don't see the point. Instead of using more money towards the quality of the schools and education, they'll just need more money for the administrative costs of these tests.

That said I'm not from California and I didn't go to a public school, so maybe I'm missing something...
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Old 02-10-2006, 09:56 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
what happens to the kids who go to alternative schools where only Spanish is spoken? Do they still have to pass this test in English?
Public high school is taught only in English, no matter what the student's linguistic background. The enlightened voters of California outlawed public bilingual education several years ago. Private high schools do not have to administer the test to graduate their students.


Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
I guess I just don't see the point. Instead of using more money towards the quality of the schools and education, they'll just need more money for the administrative costs of these tests.
I'll vote for you for school board.

Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic

That said I'm not from California and I didn't go to a public school, so maybe I'm missing something...
No, you're not missing anything.
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Old 02-10-2006, 11:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic
Weird. What is the point of these tests? What's the point of high school if all your school work, tests, papers, and projects don't actually matter?
What is the point of a high school diploma? A reward for the time invested?

I think we have avoided the issue of whether it is bad to deny someone a high school diploma.

Over the last few decades, we have pushed more students through the system in order to grant them a diploma, even though we know they have differing abilities.

While we fool ourselves into thinking we are helping the students (after all, with a high school diploma, the job opportunities are greater), but the job market adapts to the new standards. Jobs than may have only required a high school diploma decades ago, now will require a college diploma.
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Old 02-10-2006, 05:08 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader


What is the point of a high school diploma? A reward for the time invested?

I think we have avoided the issue of whether it is bad to deny someone a high school diploma.

Over the last few decades, we have pushed more students through the system in order to grant them a diploma, even though we know they have differing abilities.

While we fool ourselves into thinking we are helping the students (after all, with a high school diploma, the job opportunities are greater), but the job market adapts to the new standards. Jobs than may have only required a high school diploma decades ago, now will require a college diploma.
Doug, I see what you're saying and that was actually my one idea in favor of this test, but then again, the test is allowing the state to completely bypass the issue at hand - that kids are being passed and moved on when they're simply not ready or aren't smart enough. I think the state could make much better use of the money by improving the schooling itself implementing a new test.

You pass high school because you've done the work, understand the concepts and made the grades. It's not about what you know, but how you know it. For example, in Advanced Algebra I miserably failed a test (54% in a grading scale where 98-100 is an A), but I finished the class with an A total and 102%. Why? Because what I messed up on that ONE test that was REALLY hard for me, I made up for in dilligently doing my homework, taking up every opportunity for additional credit, working really hard on the creative projects, and doing better on my other tests. I think standardized tests, especially ones that cover ALL subjects, just aren't realistic. Another example: I work for a helpdesk as a computer technician. If I were to take the A+ certification test today (a computer skills kind of test), I'd probably fail. Funny since I'm the most knowledgable person on our team and get assigned the most phone shifts because I have the best people skills. So what if I'm not certified? I know I'm good at what I do and I know the material on that test is stuff that I don't encounter everyday at work.

And you guys really don't have Spanish schools in California? I'm positive we have Spanish public schools here. They're called alternative schools.
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Old 02-10-2006, 06:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by LivLuvAndBootlegMusic

And you guys really don't have Spanish schools in California? I'm positive we have Spanish public schools here.
We have a different set of voters here in California.
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Old 02-10-2006, 06:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by martha
Again, it's not that simple. Ask to see your child's math book. Elementary age children in California are asked to learn things that many of us didn't learn until junior high or even high school.
This is everywhere though...parents ask if their kids will pass the MCAS test here in MA all the time. I refer them to the DOE website with the test questions from prior years testing....it is nowhere near what we learned in school.

---------------

Side bar...I attended a workshop today and Texas is having problems....

They apparently targeted to improve all of the children on the bubble to raise kids near the bottom up over the bar so that they made their NCLB requirement.....

The upper group scores dropped, but the lower scoring kids passed.

In 2007 apparently NCLB will be up to be renewed...and...the rumor is they are going to make it so that if your top scores drop, you lose points towards NCLB.
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