David Syatt is a first-year literary journalism major at the University of California, Irvine.
Measure Success Another Way
by: David Syatt
As achievement in the classroom slips and parents begin to lose faith in the California public school system, the California Department of Education set out to remedy the problem, to improve our schools, to make the fountain of knowledge flow and to make students realize their true potential … by forcing them to take yet another standardized test. Yes, despite all the problems our public schools suffer, public school administrators’ only solution was to create a test that all students must pass in order to graduate from high school.
Along with the STAR, SAT and SAT II exams, students now have to worry about the California High School Exit Exam if they hope to attain any kind of future. In theory, an idea like this seems logical. After all, what’s wrong with requiring students to wield a basic knowledge of English and math? But is standardized testing the answer? Let’s fill in the blanks.
In 2002, the CAHSEE was administered to all high school sophomores in California for the first time. I took this test (as a true pioneer). Classes were delayed while we shuffled ourselves into the gymnasium for a three-day marathon of number-two pencil sharpening and testing. I took the test … and failed. Now I’m a white, upper-middle class Jew (statistics love me) who wears glasses, yet I failed the math section of the exam. This leads to my first grievance of having a mandatory standardized test. The authors do not know the schedule for every student in California. I was in a lower math course, which put me a semester behind people in more advanced classes. This course allowed me to graduate from high school and it satisfied the requirements for most universities. Yet, it did not prepare me for the CAHSEE, and about half the people in the class also failed the test. Blessedly, the Department of Education decided to rescind that year’s scores and postpone the test until the 2006 high school class. Suffice to say, the ground was kissed.
Of course, the argument can be made (deftly) that I’m simply a moron, but let’s put that aside and examine some more significant issues that arise with the CAHSEE. Thanks to affirmative action programs, our society is moving closer toward the equality that our nation has interrupted throughout its turbulent and narrow-minded past. However, with the advent of the exit exam, unfair policies once again leak themselves into the system.
For the complete article: http://horus.vcsa.uci.edu/article.php?id=4363