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Preparing Students for High School Exit Exam

May 06, 2003

Re "State Education Official Seeks to Delay Exit Exam," May 2: As a secondary mathematics teacher, I can accept any reason for postponing or canceling altogether the high school exit exam, except that "many [students] were not taught algebra in middle school and missed the opportunity for a grounding in skills required to pass the test." The algebra concepts covered on the exit exam are rudimentary math skills, and students would have been exposed to them repeatedly in every middle and high school math course. Further, in San Diego city schools, for example, even among those students who had completed a year of algebra study, only 13% scored "proficient" on the California-wide algebra standards test.

The California Board of Education has a lot more thinking to do than simply postponing the exit exam. It should reaffirm its reasonable standard of introductory algebra competence as a minimum graduation requirement and mandate adequate resources to school districts to meet that standard.

Bill Hoffine

San Diego

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Why not change the name of the California exit exam to California excellence exam and put the score on the graduating students' diplomas. This would be a "carrot" as opposed to a "stick." The standard for the test could remain high and schools could publish the scores so the public could be aware of how their school is doing.

After teaching at Troy High School for 30 years and supervising student teachers for Cal State Fullerton for eight years, I think I have some appreciation of the limits of testing.

Ben Rogers

Anaheim Hills

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