Tuesday, May 09, 2006

CA High School Exit Exam Struck Down? Judge Says CA Exit Exam is Unfair

Education reporter Nanette Asimov reports this morning that the CA High School Exit Exam has tentatively been "Struck Down. " For more on the Valenzuela lawsuit and the Californians for Justice/Public Advocates suit - CFJ case Valenzuela case

Final ruling today could halt plans to deny diplomas

Though the article doesn't acknowledge the tens of thousands of students who have dropped out or been 'pushed out' because of the high stakes testing in our state, Asimov points out that of the 47,000 students who have not passed the exam, well over 60% are Latino or "economically disadvantaged", while 44% who have not passed are English learners. view chart
Judge Robert Freedman of Alameda County Superior Court said he based his ruling on the concept of "equal protection" and is expected to make a final ruling at a 2 p.m. hearing today.
His ruling comes just weeks before graduation ceremonies begin at 1,129 California high schools and just days after state schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell announced that 46,768 seniors -- 10.7 percent of the class of 2006 -- had not yet passed the exit exam. Of those students, 61 percent are poor, and 44 percent are English learners.
Some parent, teacher, student activists like those in LA's Coalition for Educational Justice have stressed the Racism and Class Bias of the exam itself. But the CFJ/Public Advocates suit and the Valenzuela case both focus on the educational injustice faced by most African Americans, Chicano/Latinos, English learners, and low income students who still do not have an equal opportunity to learn in California's public schools from San Francisco to LA.
But attorney Arturo Gonzalez of the San Francisco law firm Morrison & Foerster, who brought the lawsuit challenging the exam, said he was thrilled with the judge's tentative ruling.
"I felt strongly that the state should not deprive a student of a diploma unless the state can say that every student has been fairly and properly prepared for that test," Gonzalez said. "There is overwhelming evidence that students throughout the state have not been taught the material on the test. And many students have been taught by teachers not credentialed in math and English."
Gonzalez said he filed the suit after reading news reports last fall that about 100,000 seniors were poised to be denied a diploma.
The suit, Valenzuela vs. California, was named for its lead plaintiff, Liliana Valenzuela, who, like Iris Padilla, is a Richmond High senior. According to the suit, Liliana maintains a 3.84 grade-point average and is 12th in her senior class of 413 students. She has passed the math portion of the exam, but not the English portion. Her first language is Spanish. The suit said that students who have repeatedly failed the test -- especially English learners -- have not had a fair opportunity to learn the material because they are more likely to attend overcrowded schools and have teachers without proper credentials.
full SF Chronicle article; also see Joel Rubin in the Los Angeles Times; Laurel Rosenhall and Cameron Jahn in the Sacramento Bee; Luis Zaragoza and Connie Skipitares in the San Jose Mercury ;Cassandra Braun in the Contra Costa Times; JULIET WILLIAMS AP ...

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