Saturday, June 17, 2006

Education Standards

So while reading headlines in NewsGator today, I was intrigued to read more about this story:

California Exit Exam Disrupts Diploma Ceremonies
It's graduation time in California high schools, and "certificate" time for the 47,000 students who did NOT pass the state's new high school exit exam. That's creating some awkwardness at commencement ceremonies.

I clicked to read more, but that was it! That was the entire article. TWO SENTENCES!? Hey I think I'm going to become a reporter in California, I like the way they're doing things. [sarcasm on] You know, keeping people informed and having such attention to detail giving the reader the real big picture [sarcasm off].

Anyway, I clicked around to read more articles about the issue and found another article.

The California Supreme Court has reinstated the state's high school exit exam as a graduation requirement. The divided ruling means that 47,000 seniors who haven't passed the test may not be able to graduate. The decision comes even as high schools across the state begin to hold graduation ceremonies.

California's class of 2006 represents the state's first graduates required to pass an exit exam, which tests tenth-grade-level English, along with eighth-grade math and algebra. Opponents claim the test discriminates against poor and minority students.

The state high court's ruling reverses the May 12 decision of Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman, who invalidated the graduation requirement for 2006. In his decision, Freedman cited a disadvantage for non-native English speakers and students living in poorer areas.

I think this exit exam is a good idea. However, I do not believe it was fair to suddenly at the end of May reinstate the law when graduation is in June.

I haven't seen the exam, and I am not an education expert; however, it doesn't matter if you are rich, poor, black, or white you can't just hand out diplomas if students do not have the skills. If you don't have a grade 10 level of English and grade 8 level of Math you shouldn't graduate. Period. I don't know California's standards or high school levels, but in Ontario you must have 4 English credits (1 credit per grade of high school) and 3 math credits (1 of these credits must be grade 11 or 12). Therefore, all successful OSSD (Ontario Secondary School Diploma) graduates should be at a grade 12 level of English and a grade 11 level of math.

Our country needs high standards in education because we live in a globalized world. In other countries such as China and India they are knocking North America's socks off with the amount of engineers etc... they are graduating. Yes they have a higher population than we do; however, instead of trying to recruit the best and the brightest from other nations (and thus giving them brain drain). We should be creating our own high standards of education, pushing our students to work harder, and learn more.

I drive around the city often and the Catholic high schools are out at 2pm!! Many times I feel I get nothing accomplished in a 8 or 9 hour work day. In high school I had 4 classes, each being 75 minutes. That means I'm in a classroom for 5 hours. That's 25 hours per week! That's it!! And in these 25 hours we're not learning very much.

I read this article back in September:

Universities try to cope with students lacking basics
University students lack basic skills, professors say
Thursday, September 22, 2005

The lack of basic writing and math skills among incoming students has become so dire that one Canadian university has resorted to "academic spies " -- two Sherlock Holmes types who pore over stacks of test scores.

The University of Ottawa has taken the extraordinary step of hiring these two full-time statisticians who have the unique job of weeding out students at risk of academic disaster early in their school year.

"We think we're flagging the weak ones and then offering them the services they need," said Serge Blais, director of the Student Academic Success Service.

Although professors have long lamented the English and math skills [emphasis mine] of their students, they are increasingly complaining that too many students -- some with top marks -- arrive on campus unprepared for the rigours of academia. These students struggle to string together a sentence, let alone form a paragraph.

"I have seen students present high school English grades in the 90s, who have not passed our simple English test. And I don't know why," said Ann Barrett, managing director of the University of Waterloo's English language proficiency program.

It's a perplexing problem that has become the topic of much debate on university and college campuses.

So is the solution just putting more tests, making standards higher? Yes and no. You can't just raise the standards (change the curriculum) without first making sure the students are able to get the skills.

I heard that physical education is no longer mandatory in schools (HUGE MISTAKE, but that's another issue). So what is being taught in place? Well, in English class we learn about symbolism, poetry, Shakespeare and metaphors. USELESS. How about some REAL skills in English class? I deperately want to get into a grammar course that is held in the evenings at Trent. I am willing to pay $250 for it too. I know that my grammar is not bad; however, I know I make mistakes, and I rather not make them. Especially because I will soon be taking a Master's program.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're so smart. :-)

Sat Jun 17, 09:39:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and that was moi that commented as anonymous! Jane xoxoxoxo

Sat Jun 17, 09:40:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Nicol DuMoulin said...


But of course us Catholics got to leave school earlier...

...we didn't have to endure all of those classes with someone putting a condom on a banana.

Gave us more time to study and thus accomplish more in a shorter time!

Keep up the entertaining posts!

Sat Jun 17, 09:44:00 PM EDT  

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