Tuesday, January 12, 2010

High school exit exams--a better idea

Here in California, self-appointed minority student advocates demand an end to exit exams because many black and Latino students are failing, despite having stayed in class and got passing grades.

They say the tests are biased because of this. It never occurs to them to blame the students or the cultures the students come from, where, for example, black kids who study are viciously harassed by other black kids for "acting white."

But I have a solution that might placate the Al Sharptons of the world and still provide high school diplomas that prospective employers and colleges would find meaningful:

Give a diploma to every single student who kept his seat warm for four years. Give an exit exam to every student. Then, on the diploma, show the grade level achievement of the student in match, English, science, social studies, and particular vocational areas (such as auto shop).

That way no one gets off the hook, while those who don't know much but at least showed up are duly rew3arded and get to march down the aisle.

And by the way, what a waste of money to have every state reinventing the wheel. We need a national exit exam, if for no other reason than cost containment. Well, and to have the sorts of national standards every other civilized country has.

Exit exams have had the lamentable effect of reorienting entire educational curricula around teaching to the test. I hope that this proposal would mitigate that, st least somewhat. But even if it doesn't, and even though teaching to the test is honestly terrible...today's alternative may be even worse: dumbed-down courses aimed to make kids feel accomplished without the actual accomplishment.

Oh, and as for the ideologues whose comments blame them dayum lib-er-uls for the mess or those awful right wing bigots--you're both equally to blame.

Both sides have conspired to make school textbooks so contentless that reading them is like eating tasteless hospital food: everything that might offend anyone about anything has been removed. And this is exactly as true for the right wing as for the left wing. Both extremes put their cause ahead of our country, and they should hang their heads in shame.

1 comment:

Kevin Rica said...

We should just settle for the "Ozian Option." As the Wizard of Oz told the scarecrow: "I can't give you a brain, but I can give you a diploma."