California Educator

November 2015

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T H E C A H S E E S H O U L D have been a high school entrance exam, not an exit exam. Students should be able to pass this test easily. If they can't, they should not graduate from high school. When it comes to math, everything on the test meets eighth- grade standards or below. Perhaps the reading level is a bit higher. Really, when it comes to passing the test, it's mostly about caring. The exit exam is so low in its level of difficulty that if a student makes an effort, he or she can usually pass. I teach at a continuation school where most of the kids can't succeed in regular high school. And most of our students passed the CAHSEE. Of those who didn't, the vast majority were purposefully absent much of the time. Many of these students didn't care about school and weren't on track to graduate. I think it's good that the state is updating the test to reflect Common Core. The current CAHSEE is multiple choice, and nowhere in life have I ever seen multiple-choice tests except for the DMV, which is another measure of the lowest common denominator. Actually, my preference would be that students have to demonstrate a certain level of proficiency on the Smarter Balanced test to exit high school. But until that happens, I would like to see the CAHSEE in place. I don't think you should suddenly take away all the rules and requirements while you're in flux. I agree with the governor about giving diplomas to Class of 2015 students who planned to take CAH- SEE during the summer. They were unable to take the test through no fault of their own because the state canceled the test. But I don't have a whole lot of sympathy for them. They were allowed to take the test four to six times a year in high school and didn't pass. I definitely don't agree with changes making students who flunked the CAHSEE dating back to 2006 now eligible to receive diplomas. You don't want to go around giing people with diplomas just because requirements are different now. If everyone who flunked the exam since 2006 gets a diploma, it makes a mockery of the test. It's not fair to other students who put in the time, effort and hard work to pass. Fred Kloepper, Paso Robles Public Educators president, teaches math at Liberty Continuation High School. I ' V E R E A D T H A T the CAHSEE has been shelved because it is no longer in sync with the Common Core. Personally, I thought it should have been shelved anyway, and that passing the required courses should be enough to measure a stu- dent's achievement. I have known quite a few students who have not passed the CAHSEE and several who tried multiple times to pass. Some were just poor test takers. They had to take CAHSEE preparation classes, and while the classes were awesome, students gave up elective periods for it. For those who were unable to obtain their diplo- mas due to not passing the CAHSEE, it has meant missed opportunities for better-paying jobs, missed opportunities for furthering their education at trade school and college, and missed opportunities to receive financial aid or enlist in the military. Some students have come back years later to take prep classes and retake the test hoping for a diploma, but in the meantime their time may have been wasted and their spirit broken. In my own household there are four children. My 2007 graduate struggled in math from the time she entered school, and ended up taking the math portion three times. The first time she was just shy of passing; the second time she was so stressed over the test she did even worse; and the third time, aer lots of praise and relaxation exercises prior to the test, she passed just fine. She has ADHD and is an absolutely horrible test taker. Another of my children is a highly functioning student with autism, and even though he completed classwork, he was not able to pass either one of the CAHSEE tests, so he earned his Certificate of Completion. I believe that the CAHSEE is not a fair or accurate way to determine what a student is capable of. Furthermore, I feel that as long as students pass all the coursework that is required, they should get their diploma. I am glad that the requirement of having students pass an exit exam was eliminated, because those who couldn't pass were denied more than just a diploma. They were also denied a chance to better their future. It's only right that they are finally eligible to receive their diploma under the new law. Kendall Griffin, Ventura Education Support Professionals Association, is an attendance technician at Ventura Adult and Continuing Education. The governor signed SB 172, which suspends the test over the next three years so the state can consider an alternative way to assess student achievement. Now students who did not receive diplomas because they failed the CAHSEE — going all the way back to 2006 — are eligible for diplomas, and can ask their school districts for one. While some CTA members are rejoicing, others think the CAHSEE's elimination is a bad idea. Here are two opposing views. Should the high school exit exam be required to graduate? P O I N T / C O U N T E R P O I N T YES NO e California High School Exit Exam is no more. 18

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