Sunday, May 28, 2006

California Exit Exam Doesn't Exit

The California State Court of Appeals has ruled that California graduation can go on as scheduled and vacated a lower court ruling that had held up implementation of the rules of the exam which had said that those who failed it could not graduate. Finally, some good sense on this policy.

Those students who didn't pass and won't graduate had multiple opportunities to pass the exam which covers 10th grade English skills and 8th grade math skills. They only need a 60% on the English test to pass and 55% to pass the math test. These are multiple choice tests. If they can't pass these tests, then they have not mastered high school material and need more time to learn what they hadn't learned. If a high school diploma is going to mean anything, then we can't go all soft-hearted for those students who aren't going to graduate because they haven't fulfilled California's rather liberal requirements.

This should also be one more argument for intensive English education for all non-English speaking students. Don't waste time with a bilingual approach but take a year or however long necessary and get these kids learning English. In an earlier life, I used to teach English as a Second Language and it is quite impressive what students can learn. I once worked with a high school freshman who had been a "boat people" refugee from Vietnam. She was illiterate in her own language and had barely known any English when she arrived here in North Carolina. Within one semester, she was starting to read her history textbook and to write rudimentary essays in English. Sure, she wasn't on the level of other Raleigh freshmen, but at the rate she was making progress, her future was open and bright. The same progress is possible for those non-English speaking students in California's schools if they get some intensive education in English.