Wednesday, March 17, 2010

High School Exit Exam---Unfair to ELLs!

Today is the final day of testing for the California High School Exit Examination. God knows what the results are supposed to validate. All 10th graders must take it, but guess what? The math is only on an 8th grade level and the English content is only 9th (last I heard). That being said it is state law.

My problem with it is this. I have ELLs who have only been here 10 months and are required to take it. Imagine being in a country where you had only been studying the language for 10 months and had to take an assessment like this that determined whether or not you could graduate from high school? No dictionaries are allowed or support of any kind. Glossaries are allowed, but we only have access to them for the examination. Ever use a glossary? Not me. I did find one publisher who just came out with them (Cengage Learning), but that won't help my kids this year.

Oh, and let us not forget how these "scores" reflect on the teachers. Low scores generally translate into "poor teachers." Fortunately, my administrators know better since they personally approve my moving sharper kids up and out of ELD as soon as possible, but I think that I am one of a very small lucky few. With President Obama floating around "merit pay" again, I get nervous. What happens to those of us who don't have AP, GATE, Honors, Accelerated, etc. ? Do low scores make us look incompetent?

Anyway, on a positive note, today is St. Patrick's Day and I will meet my ELLs shortly with cupcakes (from the store of course since I don't cook anything) and a smile. They will tell me that they tried their best and that they hope that they passed.

Sorry for venting.


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