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August 24, 2006

Embracing the California High School Exit Exam

Russlynn Ali [pdf]:

As we’ve said before, alternatives end up being a way out of educating high school students. Take New Jersey for example. New Jersey enacted an alternative to their high school exit exam for students deemed “test phobic.” Over time, though, the results told a different story: In New Jersey’s high poverty high schools, almost half of the students graduate under the alternative – in some urban high schools the fi gures rise to a full 80 and 90 percent of students. Conversely, at schools serving the fewest numbers of low-income students, only 3 percent of students take the alternative assessments. Recognizing that the alternative became a way to keep chronic low performance out of public view and under the state’s accountability radar, New Jersey has decided to cease its alternative.

All the while, as adults in Sacramento debated changes to the CAHSEE and the litigation attempting to cease the exam ensued, we heard from students, teachers and administrators who said they believed the consequences were never going to kick in, so they didn’t even try. Now, instead of focusing on ways out, there are new questions to answer. Do we believe all kids can meet a minimum standard by the end of high school and are we going to do what it takes to support them and their teachers? Can we challenge and change the cycle of low expectations that we hold for ourselves, and our leaders hold for our communities?

Posted by Jim Zellmer at August 24, 2006 8:57 PM
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