Ditch exit exams


Posted: Friday, February 02, 2001

Regarding the current discussion over when to make high school exit exams count:

The idea that a single test should be the sole determiner in eligibility for a high school diploma has no legitimacy. If many students are not passing this test, that doesn't mean there is something wrong with the preceding years of education. It means such tests only measure the rote retention of largely meaningless factoids, and that they can't and shouldn't replace years of tests, quizzes, papers, essays, projects and other proven demonstrators of learning and achievement.

Of course, the fact that there are those who support such tests might be construed as an indicator that the schools have failed those individuals in the teaching of analytical thinking skills. However, I think the phenomenon is more just a manifestation of determined ignorance.

Were it the case, for instance, of the academic abilities of recent students being so abysmal, then - duh - one would expect recent average combined SAT scores - and scores from similar tests - at abysmal levels rather than levels comparable with historical averages.

So, when to make this test count? Simple: never.

Fully fund the public schools, and let educators get back to the job of teaching children and preparing them for life and work, rather than wasting school days just preparing them to take an absurd and worthless test foisted on us by (mostly Republican) politicians who perceive some political advantage among ignorant voters in a simplistic solution to a non-existent problem identified by themselves.

Parents and grandparents would be wise to consider carefully before allowing their progeny, and their education and future, to be further harmed by Republican politicians for their own perceived political benefit.

Donald R. Douglas


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