Sunday, May 14, 2006

Nutty judge

The Los Angeles Times reports that a California judge thinks it is unfair to ask high school graduates to know some 8th grade math and ninth- and 10th-grade English since some went to lousy schools:

A California judge struck down the state's controversial high school exit exam Friday, potentially clearing the way for thousands of seniors who have failed the test to graduate with their class next month.

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert B. Freedman issued a preliminary injunction against the mandatory testing requirement, ruling it places an unfair burden on poor and minority students who attend low-performing schools.
Even answering little more than half the questions on the test is an onerous requirement:

This year's 12th-graders were the first class to face the testing requirement, which includes a section of eighth-grade math and another of ninth- and 10th-grade English. Students are required to answer little more than half of the questions correctly and can take the test multiple times. Students with learning disabilities were exempted from the test.
The judge's insistence on giving ignorant students a diploma confuses symbolism and substance. What good is a diploma if it does not stand for something? And how much are students helped if educational failure is shoved under the rug?


NYC Educator said...

Well, at least the teachers can pass those tests. Maybe.

Polski3 said...

Hummm....I wonder if the Calif. High School Exit Exam was modeled after the C-Best Exam. For those who are not aware of it, the C-Best was "dumbed" down too, because not enought teacher wannabes were passing it at first. At first, you had to pass all three parts at once. (sarcasm on)But that turned out to be unfair to those University/College Graduates who did not recieve the quality of education they should have gotten, because they couldn't pass all three parts of the C-Best. (Sarcasm off). Now, those taking the C-Best can pass each section whenever they pass it.

NYC Educator said...

We've been dumbing down teacher tests in NY for some time now. I had to take a 6-hour exam called the NTE, which contained a writing component. The college students who were proctoring had to continually ask the teachers to stop cheating.

It was not a tough test, if you could sit for 6 hours.

That was replaced with a three-hour exam called the LAST. NYC hired thousands who failed, often dozens of times. That's what you get when you're constantly striving for that lowest common denominator.

Barry Garelick said...

People who wish to teach high school math, must pass the Praxis II in mathematics content in order to receive a license. Passing score varies by state. In Virginia, it's 147, though I don't know how high a score is possible. I am taking it in June. Some of my fellow future math teachers are complaining about it and how difficult it will be. Do they realize what teaching high school math is about? If they can't pass the test, maybe they should think things over a bit.

It is an ETS exam. ETS states that a graphing calculator is REQUIRED for the exam, not just recommended. Looking at the sample questions in ETS' brochure, it's obvious why. Some of the questions, in order to be answered in a timely manner, require a calculator, but little or no mastery of the math concept being tested. Use of the equipment amounts to a glorified "guess and check" routine.

NYC Educator said...

If they can't pass the test, maybe they should think things over a bit.

I sincerely hope they do. I'd hate to see someone like that teaching my daughter math. For reasons I can't explain, she loves it.

Must come from the wife's side.

NYC Math Teacher said...

"NYC hired thousands who failed [the LAST], often dozens of times"

At the risk of sounding arrogant, who, exactly, is failing the LAST? And multiple times, yet! I studied for the LAST for less than an hour (it amounted to familiarizing myself with the test format) and I got a 290 out of 300 (I'm still wondering what question I got wrong). The test was a joke.

Laura said...

I think it is perfectly reasonable to expect high school graduates to be able to do 8th grade math and 10th grade English. Of course I do.

However, I can sympathize with the students who have been conditioned to cram and forget. If the behavior that has been encouraged up to the time they are on the point of graduation is "study 15 minutes before the test" and there has been no comprehensive assessment of skills until the very end, I would say it's almost hypocritical.

If the math and English teachers at their school have had low expectations for them for years, indicating that they just need to hold concepts in their brain until the next test and then they will never come up again, isn't it unfair to change right before they graduate?

I know there are teachers like this. Of course not all of us are, but there are those who do not love the profession and choose to get by and ask nothing more of their students than that they get by.

Instructivist said...


The test is not sprung on the students.

Students can take the test early on in high school to assess their abilities. If they pass early on, they are done. If not, they get ample opportunity to shape up.

Laura said...

Ah, I was under the impression that this was newly implemented. That does change things somewhat.

NYC Educator said...

NYC Math Teacher,

I regret I can't tell you exactly who's failing that test, but I can tell you, whoever they may be, I wouldn't want them teaching my kid.

There were articles about this in the Daily News.


No spam so far with haloscan.

Martin The Mess said...

Apparently, the CA state supreme court has reinstated the exit exam, and the usual socialist nutjobs are up in arms.