Exit exam flap fails to bother area educators
Debate on an Alameda County Superior Court judge’s ruling last week to graduate students who had failed to pass California’s high school exit exam, may not have yet abated, but Nevada County educators are not perturbed by the lawsuit.
They say Nevada County typically has had a high percentage of students pass the examination each year, with this year being no different.
According to Superintendent of Schools Terry McAteer, 97.5 percent students in Nevada County pass the exit exam before the 12th grade.
“We have a high standard,” said McAteer. “The kids know where the bar is and it’s high. As an example, we have established the Nevada County Academy of Learning to take low-performing ninth graders and place them in a remedial high school with shirts and ties and small class size.”
This year a total of 37 students from western Nevada County have not passed the exit exam, according to Maggie Deetz, superintendent of Nevada Joint Union High School District. Deetz said, however, that all of them have re-taken the exam and will get their results in July.
On Tuesday, Judge Robert Freedman of Alameda County Superior Court rejected a request from Californians for Justice Education to grant a writ suspending the exam in the future until the Legislature has time to consider alternatives.
“I have mixed feelings (about the litigation),” Deetz said. “We have to acknowledge that the exit exams are based on seventh-, eighth-grade standards and we have known for years that this is going to be a requirement so we were preparing for it. We were having a lot of support classes, tutoring.”
Deetz said that she was not against the idea of the exit exam, but she would “like to see enough time and enough money from the state to allow these kids (who struggle to pass) to start learning from an early age.”
She does not think the local resources that were channeled into the support groups and additional tutoring for the exam have gone in vain.
“We forget that we want the kids to learn math and English,” she said. “So the extra support, smaller classes, and tutoring did the job.
“They (the students) learned. For the kids, that’s what we want to happen, not for the court decision. So whether or not the exit exam is required this year or the next, we will continue doing what we are doing because it is working.”
To contact staff writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4229.
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