Re: California high school exit exam
- Subject: Re: California high school exit exam
- From: Erwin Morton <e-morton@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>
- Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 12:05:35 -0800
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
"George N. Schmidt" wrote:
> In a message dated 1/15/01 12:50:12 PM, SOhan70241@AOL.COM writes:
> << I went to a session on the California high school exit exam--- >>
> Pardon my ignorance, but which test, precisely, is the CA exit exam this
> year? Is it the SAT-9 (at some level), the STAR (Standardized Testing And
> Reporting System) test (in that case, at which level) or something other than
> those two?
STAR, given in grades 2-11, includes the SAT-9
and the "California Standards-Based Tests" or
some such, aka "STAR Language" and "STAR
Math", aka the "Augmented Items" because they
were originally conceived as an add-on to SAT-9.
The latter stuff was developed for California by
a combination of people from Harcourt and people
"nominated" by members of the State Board of
Education and officially appointed by Harcourt.
This unusual process had the effect, and perhaps
the purpose, of avoiding the necessity for setting
qualifications and going through any sort of public
vetting of the candidates--or even, for a while,
admitting that these groups existed. The group that
selected questions for STAR Math, and the later
group that set cut scores for STAR Math, included
a number of people who know nothing about math
and little if anything about education, and whose
main qualification appeared to be that they were
"in support of the California Standards". One of
the people on the panel selecting math questions
said at the time that his goal on the panel was
"to make the questions so hard it would prove
that Palo Alto Unified was failing". (Palo Alto
is the highest-scoring K-12 district in the state.)
The HSEE is a separate animal, developed for
the state board, under contract, by the American
Institutes for Research (AIR) (here in Palo Alto,
I believe) which I understand was the sole bidder.
No one else would touch it because the timeline
was too short and the expectation too high.
While no one ever takes, say, 9th grade STAR more
than once, the HSEE is set up so you can take it
as many as 17 times.
The provision in the California Education Code
that specifically permits a parents to excuse a
child from the exam applies to STAR (any and
all parts) but not to the HSEE.
Math comment again (I'll leave Language Arts
for others to comment on): Everything in the
system--the Standards, the Augmented Items,
and the HSEE--is focused on Algebra I, largely
because of a mathematical misunderstanding:
Those who do well in algebra, particularly if
they take it in 8th grade, generally go on to do
well in college. Therefore, the reasoning goes,
we should force everyone to take algebra in 8th
grade, and they will *all* do well in college.
Therefore, Algebra I is an important component
of the HSEE. Because of *that*, the state passed
a law requiring all students to take Algebra I--not
because they will need it in their lives (a question
I'm not arguing either way), but *because* it is on
The HSEE is new. The first administration will
be this spring, and as George Cunningham says,
they will not set cut scores until after the test has
been administered. Things are in flux, and it was
recently decided that the first administration
would be voluntary, and for practice only.
There are some sample questions on the Web,
and I've heard that a conscious decision was made
to make the sample questions *harder* than the
questions on the actual exam. I have other, more
serious concerns about the sample questions (and
the real ones), but I'll leave that for a future
communication. This e-mail is already too long. :-)
> Who publishes this exit exam, California or one of the commercial publishing
AIR wrote it. I don't know who publishes it.
As for so many other things, there's an advisory
committee, but I don't know who plays precisely
what role in the policy decisions or in the exam's
"In the dark shadow of the Hoover Institution"
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