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

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Utah Pols Puzzled Over How to Maintain Unfairness in Exit Exams

Utah politicians feel they are in a quandary. They want to save themselves from the justified outrage that comes from their denying high school diplomas to special education and English language learners on the basis of a test score, but this is made doubly difficult by their stay-the-course determination to continue punishing the poor for their failure to compensate for the disability of poverty that none of these head-scratching politicians has ever been willing to acknowledge. If they had, the third world conditions of Utah's poor children might have been addressed, and these same politicians would not now be looking at the hard fact that 1 out of 4 students (probably much higher because of dropouts) is denied a diploma because of a testing system whose only tangible accomplishment is in identifying and punishing the perpetual victims of that same system.

Unfortunately, these politicians, just like the ones in Washington, choose to remain blind to the inequities that their sinking and stinking system is built on. But until "science" comes up with a new way to perpetuate the discrimination and blame that by now have entered into the political germ plasm, we must continue to depend upon these crude measurements that, not so long ago, replaced cranial size comparisons as the prevailing method of scientific social sorting:

Many Utahns find it disturbing that 26 percent of this year's graduating seniors didn't pass the state's high school exit exam.
How hard is the test? Who are these failing students? Are policies regarding the exam too lenient?
Lawmakers are pondering that last question before convening for the 2008 Legislature. Some are dismayed students can receive a diploma without passing the test. Others have sought exemptions for students with disabilities or limited English.
"Every year we have a bill proposed that talks about giving the state Board [of Education] some latitude" but "it's always very broad and never gets out of committee," said Rep. Greg Hughes, R-Draper, House chairman of the Education Interim Committee.
A presentation during last week's Education Interim Committee meeting summarized strategies adopted in other states. Lawmakers want to accommodate mental or linguistic handicaps without creating loopholes for everyone else. In the meantime, state and district officials are working to get a better sense of who's not passing and why.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:27 PM

    No Child Left Behind rearing its head again. As grand as it is, the idea of every child receiving an education that brings them up to what our society demands, it's just not excusable to also hand out diplomas like they're door prizes. More focus needs to be given to the learning process and not the end result, I think.