Local high school students who have yet to take the California high
school exit exam will get a reprieve -- for now.
State Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, who sets the
dates of the exam, has canceled next month’s administration of the
test and recommended to the state board that students in the classes
of 2004 and 2005 not be required to pass the test to graduate.
The state board is expected to vote on the recommendation when it
meets July 9 and 10. Approval of the recommendation could save the
state about $1.3 million in costs associated with administering the
exams, said Rick Miller, spokesman for the state department of
"[O’Connell] never would have done this unless he strongly
believed it would happen,” Miller said.
In anticipation of the board’s vote, O’Connell also announced
Friday that he is canceling the September and November tests, which
focus on reading and math skills.
Burbank Unified School District administrators were not thrilled
about the sudden cancellation.
“I feel it’s a mistake,” said Alexis Sheehy, the district’s
assistant superintendent for instructional services. “We have already
put standards into place.”
An independent evaluation by a Virginia company found that the
exam is sound, and provides a good indicator of California public
school standards, said Miller, who acknowledged that the evaluation
also indicated that the classes of 2004 and 2005 have not had enough
time to learn the basics.
If the exams are postponed until 2006, the district will be forced
to cancel classes designed specifically to prepare students for
testing, Sheehy said.
However, she added, postponement of the exams will not stop the
district from providing help to those students who need it.
It sends a mixed message and a wrong message to postpone it,”
Sheehy said. “For the kids in 2006, what guarantee do they have that
it will be implemented in 2006?”
The timing of the cancellation is troubling to Caroline Brumm, the
district’s coordinator of student and program evaluation.
“I know the state is involved in very complex decisions about the
budget,” Brumm said. “But it seems this [decision] could have been