YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


An Educational Compromise Offered

May 11, 2003

Re "State Education Official Seeks to Delay Exit Exam," May 2: Writing about the high failure rate on California's high school exit exam, reporter Duke Helfand notes that "only 60% of the students of the class of 2004 have passed the math portion of the test so far" and cites the study which estimates that "even after additional attempts over the next year, about 20% of that class still might be denied diplomas."

Is it my imagination or has the burden of responsibility and blame shifted so dramatically? It is as if our students have an inalienable right to a diploma despite their ignorance. Is a student entitled to a high school diploma merely for spending a requisite number of hours at an accepted institution certified by our state Legislature? Clearly, that's what Reed Hastings, president of the state education board, seems to think.

For an era and a system concerned more with personal self-esteem than academic competence, I propose the following compromise: a student who opts not to take the high-school exit exam or takes it (however many times) but fails should be given an exit certificate. It would certify that following a four-year stint at a certified high school, the student was shown the door. A diploma would be given to any student who at least earned it by passing the test.

In math, this exam generally tests for freshman-level competence. Without the transcripts that tell which courses the student attended and the grades received, the diploma is a meaningless document. That seems to be a major secret.

In mandating the exit exam, our state Legislature wants the cat out of the bag. In recommending to postpone testing, Hastings and his supporters want to sweep the issues under the carpet -- Hastings for three years; his supporters for even longer.

Tadek Korn

Laguna Beach

Los Angeles Times Articles