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

Friday, November 09, 2007

California's Ah-Hah Moment on High School Exit Exams

Could it be that the state of California has had a major epiphany on the road to world-class testing standards for all? Could it be that the effects of their "world class" high school exit exam could be earning their high schools the new well-deserved label of "dropout factory?"

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The number of California high school dropouts spiked in 2006, the first year seniors were required to pass an exit exam to graduate, according to a report presented Wednesday to the state Board of Education.

The analysis found that 24,000 high school seniors dropped out in 2006, about 10,000 more than just four years earlier.

The information could give ammunition to lawmakers and others who have criticized the exam, as well as those who have lobbied for alternative assessments.

The firm that prepared the report, Human Resources Research Organization of Alexandria, Va., made several recommendations to the board, including a suggestion that California explore other ways for high school seniors to demonstrate proficiency. In Massachusetts and Washington state, for example, students can be judged on a portfolio of their high school work.

This is where the ideology of testing comes up against the reality of testing: the ones who can see beyond the ideology have an ah-hah moment--and those who cannot just have their eyes glaze over as they change the subject.

Remember these numbers?
  • Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of African-Americans, 9 have high school exit exams.
  • Of the state with the highest percentage of Hispanics or Latinos, 8 have high school exit exams.
  • Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of whites, 1 has exit exams.
  • Of the 10 states with the lowest graduation rates, all 10 have high school exit exams.


  1. I believe that this is a prime example of why tests should not be used to show the proficiency of students. Some students do good in school but are just not good test takers, these students are then considered failures by our society, this is not right.

  2. I think that it sad. That stundent have work all 4 year it come down to a test. see if going to pass

  3. Follow The Money Trail.

    Schools that implement exit exams get Fed funding,(a la
    No Child Left Behind, another cow pattycake delivered by your friends and mine, the Bush Admin.) Those schools that don't implement the exams don't get Federal funding. So poor students get nailed with what is basically a completely useless test which accurately measures nothing and, in its implementation, steps on poor/minority/ESL students, yet again. In California,
    the really irritating part is that, for all intents
    and purposes, the high school diploma is a joke.
    A sad, tasteless, useless piece of the past that should
    be relgated to the dustbin of history, along with the dodo, and passenger pigeon. A high school diploma prepares a student for nothing; not even jr. college,
    which, if a student goes to jr college after NOT getting
    a diploma in high school, that student could go on to recieving their higher degrees, like B.A., or even a Ph.D.. The true learning that benefits a student in life
    can't be measured by an "exit exam", for the simple reason that a test is not the best way to measure knowledge/mastery of a subject. Taking a test just makes you good at taking tests. Sometimes, the tests speak more to the mindset of the institution/entity
    enforcing the test (Testing as a tool to separate in discriminate..Jaime Escalante, or let's go back even further..The Golden 12, anyone?)and the inherent racism in the tests/testers themselves.