Ruling expected soon in California exit exam case

… on whether or not students who failed the California High School exit exam will still be able to graduate from high school:

For Elda Yanez, a tiny but determined 17-year-old, a court ruling to scrap the California High School Exit Exam for the Class of 2006 would mean just one thing. One immensely important thing.

“I cry with all my heart that there would be a way for me to walk on stage with my fellow classmates at commencement on June 13,” said Yanez, a senior at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento.

Yanez and thousands of other California high school seniors who still need a passing score on the state’s exit exam to graduate this year will probably have to wait until Friday to learn their fate.

That’s when Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman said he would issue a final ruling in a lawsuit challenging the California High School Exit Exam. He said he would give lawyers on both sides two more days to submit arguments over which students would be included in any action taken by the court.

The suit, filed by San Francisco attorney Arturo Gonzales on behalf of students who flunked the exam, asks the court to stop the state from denying diplomas to 12th-graders who failed the test that was supposed to be a graduation requirement this year for the first time. It alleges that the state has not provided all students equal opportunities to learn the material on the exam.

The state will continue to fight for the test, California’s superintendent of public instruction said after Tuesday’s court hearing. “Recognizing that today’s ruling is not final, I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that at the end of the legal day we maintain the integrity of the high school exit exam,” said Jack O’Connell, the state schools chief.

Whatever happens in the courtroom, Elda Yanez will take the math portion of the exit exam today, her third or fourth stab at passing the test. She moved from Denver two years ago, where she took geometry but not algebra.

“I didn’t have any problem with the English test, just the math part,” she said. “I know math is important, and I have worked and worked. And I think this exit exam is really good – but why not enforce it next year?”

Yeah, why not? Reward those who failed this year, and wait until it’s someone else’s headache to enforce the exit exam requirements. That’s the ticket!

Will Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman reward failure? Stay tuned …

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