Thursday, May 25, 2006

SF Bay Area parents and students vow to fight back against CA Supreme Court's reinstatement of CA Exit Exam

Photo - Coalition for Eductional Justice - LA
The mainstream media reported this morning on the California Supreme Court's decision allowing the discrminatory CA High School Exit Exam or CAHSEE to go into effect for 2006 and the despair of tens of thousands of high school students like Salvador Rodriguez and Iris Padilla who may be denied their diplomas in a few weeks. The SF Chronicle also reported on the gloating of CA Schools Superintendent O'Connel who advised the mostly low income and immigrant students,
"Study hard, do your homework, listen to your teachers, and prepare to pass the high school exit exam. I have every expectation that the high school exit exam is here to stay."

But to many San Francisco and Bay Area parent and community activists, this advice was both patronizing and a slap in the face to them because of the widespread acknowledgement of the unequal learning conditions for the students of color, English learners and others who have been disadvantaged by the high stakes testing and 'accountability' systems pushed by Democrats like O'Connell and Republicans like President Bush and CA Gov. Schwarzenegger.

"It's devastating news. Now, again, they're robbing the students of their diplomas," said Raúl Alcaraz, organizer of the Richmond High School branch of Youth Together, a social justice organization. "It was a very irresponsible decision to be made two weeks before their graduation."
But East Bay Assemblymember Loni Hancock got it right in her piece for the progressive California Progress Report blog - California Exit Exam Fails Kids and the State

A single high stakes test such as the California High School Exit Exam should not be the sole reason to withhold a diploma from students who have otherwise met all the course and grade requirements for high school graduation...
The American Counseling Association recognizes the importance of tests as only one indicator of student achievement. ...On many occasions, I have outlined reservations about the use of single high stakes tests (in this case, the Exit Exam) and requested the Department of Education to take action so students who had failed the CAHSEE would have an opportunity to submit written work, portfolios, or achieve at a determined score on the state’s achievement tests or other nationally normed tests to demonstrate their competencies...
We must also acknowledge that in many of our urban schools, more than 50% of the students who enrolled in 9th grade have dropped out by their senior year. We cannot write off these students without also looking at ourselves, the policy makers and the policy enforcers. Judge Freeman has ruled that we are not meeting our obligation to offer every student a high quality education. Californians should demand that we improve the quality of education for all students.
The California High School Exit Exam is an important indicator of our ability to teach all students to achieve what we want them to know and be able to do by the time they graduate from High School. However, passage of one test should not be the only way we determine who does and who does not receive a diploma.

See also ACSD's SMARTBRIEF website - California high court reinstates exit exam
Siding with state education officials, the California Supreme Court on Wednesday lifted an injunction that had blocked use of the state high school exit exam as a graduation requirement for the Class of 2006. With a reversal by the state appeals court unlikely, the decision means an estimated 47,000 students who failed the test probably won't receive their diplomas. Los Angeles Times (free registration) (5/24), The Sacramento Bee (Calif.) (free registration) (5/24)

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