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Seniors to exit minus exam

Molly Shore

Burbank’s seniors in the classes of 2004 and 2005 have been given a

reprieve.

The state Board of Education voted unanimously Wednesday to delay

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until 2006 the requirement that seniors throughout the state pass the

California High School Exit Exam to be eligible for graduation.

“Under California law, the state board cannot delay this

examination again and, therefore, it will certainly apply to the

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class of 2006,” state board President Reed Hastings said following

the vote Wednesday afternoon.

The board voted for the two-year delay to give school districts

throughout the state more time to teach to standards-based

instruction. An independent evaluation by a Virginia company found

that the graduating classes of 2004 and 2005 have not had enough time

to learn the basics.

Students who already have passed the exam will be given a

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certificate of accomplishment from the state, California Education

Secretary Kerry Mazzoni said.

Caroline Brumm, Burbank Unified School District’s coordinator of

student and program evaluation, said she was certain the board would

postpone the requirement because many districts statewide are not up

to date with standards-aligned instruction and material. She noted

that BUSD had aligned everything to the standards.

Students who have taken the test have performed well, Brumm said.

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Districtwide, 85% of students passed the English portion of the test

and 67% passed the math. The percentages include special education

and English as second language students, as well as students at

Monterey, the continuation high school.

Graham Matthews, whose daughters Krystal and Melanie attend

Burbank High School, said he was disappointed the exit exam has been

put on hold.

“It’s a shame that they would put something like that on the books

and take it off,” Matthews said. “We need to gauge how well students

are doing.

His daughters passed the exam, and Matthews said any student who

cannot pass it must be lagging far behind.

Supt. Gregory Bowman could not be reached for comment.

The California High School Exit Exam, originally a three-day math

and English test, became law in 1999, and was administered for the

first time in the 2001-02 school year. Students who could not pass

the test would have been given a certificate of completion in lieu of

a diploma, meaning that they attended all classes but did not meet

all the requirements for graduation.

In separate action later Wednesday, the state board voted to

reduce the exit exam from three days to two by requiring only one

essay instead of two on the English portion of the test.

The exam was created by a statewide panel of educators, parents

and the general public, appointed by the state board. Glendale

Unified School District Supt. Jim Brown was a member of the original

panel.

“I think the exam was the right thing to do for California public

education,” he said Wednesday. “It injected an important degree of

accountability for students to achieve a higher level than had been

expected in the past.”

However, Brown does not believe that five years has been enough

time to prepare students. Setting the requirement for 2004 was more

of a political decision than an educational decision, he said.

“If there was enough time provided, beginning in elementary and

middle school, many more students [statewide] would be successful,”

he said.


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