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Sacramento's heavy-handedness on the exit exam

To the editor: The Times is correct to insist that the governor veto or the state Legislature stop the suspension of California high school exit exam. While the exam is not state of the art, it does not test even high school knowledge but rather junior high skills where students only need to get roughly 60% correct to pass. We should expect our teachers and students to succeed. ("Don't drop the high school exit exam," editorial, June 10)

Sacramento, the big school board up north, often swings the pendulum of curriculum and assessment too much, and we end up with years of no measurement tools to gauge our efforts on behalf of student learning.

Shifting to the new Common Core emphasis on rigor and deeper assessments of knowledge should not mean we suspend testing whether students know when James Madison lived or in which states the Civil War was fought.

Architects still need to measure, and lawyers need to be able to read.

David Tokofsky, Los Angeles

The writer was a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education for 12 years.


To the editor: Why would you plea to save the exit exam, which you say should be updated, when you have no idea what reasonably proficient reading and math skills for students are?

I would suggest replacing that invalid test with the California Basic Education Skills Test (CBEST), which is competency based.

For the CBEST, test takers write two essays, answer questions related to their reading of a literature segment, and answer math questions based on matter that's actually taught in high school. This test is low-cost and is a requirement for all individuals seeking a California teaching credential. Passing the test would certify a student's competency in reading, writing and math. If given early in a student's school career, it would be a valuable diagnostic tool.

The state of California should never bring back the invalid, expensive, worthless exit exam if it decides to suspend it temporarily. The students in our schools deserve more.

Ruby L. Trow, Whittier

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