Thousands of students who failed the California High School Exit Exam over the past decade may finally be able to graduate under a bill now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.
Ten years ago California instituted the California High School Exit Examination in a futile attempt to improve the sorry academic performance of California high school students. It is administered in the sophomore year, and students were required to pass it – if necessary, after multiple attempts over succeeding years – to receive a high school diploma. The test is not difficult; the English section tests for 10th grade skills, while the math section tests for 8th grade skills, with passing grades being 60 and 55%, respectively. In short, if you have an opposable thumb, you’re looking good to pass, which about three-quarters of students did on their first attempt.
Of course, no story of liberal policies is complete until we get to the train wreck part. Test results exhibited a demographic distribution that will come as a surprise to precisely no one (except perhaps those who failed, to whom most things in life probably come as a surprise), nor does the inevitable liberal reaction, which ignored the sage teachings of William of Ockham:
The test has highlighted educational disparities by race, disability, income, and whether English is spoken in the home. This has been politically embarrassing for school districts, who were previously able to ignore their failures.
Liberals thrashed about mightily to try to find a work-around (e.g., evaluating a portfolio of class work – please) that will at least reduce the “disparities” to a less embarrassing level, but to no avail.
With a contract for a provider recently expired, lawmakers had already planned to suspend the exit exam for the next three years to come up with a replacement more aligned with new Common Core curriculum standards.
The contract with the test provider expired? Hmmm. How did that happen? The cancellation blocked about 5000 students from graduating, although as seniors they’d already had two years in which to pass the damned thing, so clearly they posed little threat to the valedictorians at their schools.
In response to this screw up, Jerry Brown signed legislation waiving the exit exam requirement. But then, at Jerry Brown’s request, the state Senate decided to go for the whole burrito, as it were, and passed legislation waiving the requirement retroactively back to 2003-2004, i.e., back to the first year of the exam, thereby vitiating the entire point of the program. He asked for this because shut up again.
“Students who have been accepted into college should not be prevented from starting class this fall because of a test cancellation they could not control,” Deborah Hoffman, Brown’s deputy press secretary, said Monday. “The governor will sign this bill to ensure these students begin their college careers.”
Let me see if I understand correctly. Students who, after repeated efforts, could not demonstrate minimal 10th grade English skills, and/or 8th grade math skills are going to college? And not just any colleges, either:
The University of California and the California State University later announced that they would not deny entry to admitted students affected by the exam cancellation.
Students who couldn’t master high school material are being accepted into the University of California, the premier institution of higher learning in the state?? Tell the physics department to brace for an influx of new students.
This is a classic liberal maneuver: debasing the currency, either literally or figuratively. For a while, people will continue to hold UC graduates in some regard. After being burned a few times, employers in particular will adopt a “caveat emptor” approach. A person given the accoutrements of achievement is not equivalent to a person who has actually achieved something, any more than, as we found in the subprime mortgage fiasco, giving someone the trappings of middle class life makes him middle class.
Liberals can pretend all they like, but once again, reality bats last.