"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Hope Exits With California High School Exam

When my foundations students find out that California (and other states) used IQ tests, written in a language that many children could not read, to sort children during the 20s and 30s, they are appalled. To use a test that children cannot even read to place them in dead end jobs doesn't sound like the American Way that their dumbed-down, 30-pound high school history text talked about.

Well, we now have a chance to introduce current events, boys and girls, with California joining 25 other states who use the same racist practices that we were using in the 1920s to make sure the brown and the black and the poor stayed in their places. While the lawsuit filed by Californians for Justice to stop the exit exam has been kicked into the 1st District Court of Appeals, 47,000 seniors have been denied diplomas, and 80% of those are English-language learners. Imagine that.

This racist social policy assures the continuing poverty and crime and generally debased living that liberals wring their hands about and for which conservatives nod knowingly. So embarrassing in America--why can't these people put out a little effort, show a little gumption, develop some backbone! And, of course, California's decision comes just in time for the newest crisis that is not new at all--the epidemic of school dropouts and pushouts.

“It is a full-fledged epidemic,” concluded researchers after following 25,000 eighth-graders for 12 years. Basing its conclusions on the National Educational Longitudinal Study 1988, Jobs for the Future, a Boston-based non-profit co-founded by former Clinton adviser Hilary Pennington, found that dropouts generally value education, with most attempting to earn a diploma or General Educational Development certificate. Its April 2006 report, “Making Good on a Promise,” identifies social and economic factors – rather than ethnicity or minority status – as the best predictors of who eventually drops out and who persists in trying to finish their education. “Although these young people may give up on their high school, most do not give up on their education,” said the researchers.

Solving the problem of dropouts is not as simple as telling students to buckle down and work harder. Educators, researchers and social scientists have long identified a student’s innate ability, family background, peer pressure, instructional quality, available resources and the culture of a school as factors that impact how well he or she does in school.

As Faulker said, the past is not dead--it's not even past.


  1. Dr. Horn readers may be interested in the cases Hobson v. Hansen (1967) and Larry P. v. Riles (1972, 1979). Hobson was a Washington DC case where students were placed in sped classes based on IQ tests that were not normed to their particular groups as was Larry P. which was a case in California.

    OT - I am very concern with vocational programs being taken out of school districts as well as out sourcing of jobs to oversea markets, we have not jobs for students who are actually disabled.

  2. Here in New York, ESL students are requeired to pass the English Regents exam. It's possible to train most of them to pass it.

    But we now do so in lieu of teaching them English. When there's limited room on their schedules, they get test prep instead of English class. It's short-sighted and idiotic.