I find the very idea of changing the format of the standardized high school exit test to accommodate those with disabilities appalling. The purpose of a standardized test is to measure everyone who wants to graduate against the same standard.
I do understand that there are people who are born with either a learning disorder or just plain fewer marbles than others. I am a graduate of JDHS. I am certainly not candidate for Mensa (I tried their tests, too tough for me). In fact, I struggled through many of the core classes while at JDHS. I took math for four years at JDHS, and I never scored better than C. I simply didn't pick it up as easily as those around me. There were many days I wished I was as smart as the girl sitting next to me, but I wasn't. As a result, I had to work much harder for my C than she did her A. Is this fair? No, it isn't. Should they have changed the tests for me so I could get an A, because I really wanted an A? No.
If disadvantaged students wish to graduate from high school they are going to have to work harder than their peers. By testing students every couple of years prior to reaching their senior year the school district can identify those who need more help to meet the exit exam standards and provide help as necessary. Further, the school will have to make those students understand that they will have to work harder than their peers, they will not be given any breaks on the tests. Extra time spent on the core requirements may mean they cannot take other classes such as art or chemistry, which I don't believe are tested.
We must accept the fact that, despite our best efforts, life isn't fair. We cannot provide for every individual need. Also, changing the test to accommodate those with learning disabilities but not those who are just not as intelligent would be inequitable. A high school diploma should indicate that the holder has satisfactorily passed certain standards, by changing the standards we will invalidate every diploma issued. Additionally, if these students wish to go on to college, the colleges will expect them to have passed the exit exams and meet certain standards. If the student didn't pass the standard exams he or she could be set up for failure in college.
If a standardized test is to be required to obtain a high school diploma, then that standard should be met by all.
Juneau and Jacksonville, Fla.
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