Students failing exit exams have options |

Students failing exit exams have options

The eight local seniors who failed the California High School Exit Exam still have opportunities to pass the test or otherwise continue their education.

“I will follow up on these students [who didn’t pass],” said Dennis Williams superintendent of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

In 2006, eight out of 293 students didn’t pass the exit exam. Of those not receiving diplomas, five students passed the exam but either didn’t meet course requirements or were credit deficient. There were also some students in special education programs who were excused.

Students aren’t left on their own to passing the exam prior to graduation, said the district’s director of curriculum, Jessamy Lasher. The students take the exam once as a sophomore, twice as a junior and three times as a senior.

“If they still fail it their senior year, they can keep taking it as many times as they need to pass,” Lasher said. “Struggling students are entered into a teacher visit program before senior year or are later added to the senior intervention program.”

Prior to the exit exam those who did not graduate were on their own, said Penny Burney, a high school counselor.

“Now, as soon as we get back to school, we will be calling the kids who didn’t pass the [exit exam],” Burney said. “We will find out if they passed it over the summer, if not, what are their goals and what can we do to help them.”

While the state has mandated the requirements for graduation, officials are clear about who they hold accountable.

According to Hilary McLean, spokeswoman for Jack O’Connell, the California state superintendent of public schools, O’Connell believes it’s the responsibility of the schools to make sure the students are passing the exam, “and ultimately it’s the students responsibility,” she said.

This year the state has budgeted expansions for all the programs needed to help students pass the exam, McLean said.

Meanwhile, Sierra College enrolls students who have not passed the exam. “If they are 18 or older, have a GED, or have passed a high school proficiency exam, they can enroll,” said Ruth Schaffer of Sierra College.

In its second year, the legality of the California High School Exit Exam is being debated in the courts. Alameda County received an injunction to block the exam as a requirement for graduation in 2006. That decision is in appeal at this time. Also being litigated is the constitutionality of the exit exam.

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