Court suspends exit exam

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsState attorneys say they should have an appeal filed by the middle of next week, although they had not decided in which court to do so. O’Connell’s staff said they would keep school districts posted on their efforts to preserve the exit exam as a graduation requirement this year. “There are students who are within days of graduation. They are left with uncertainty over whether they will be granted a diploma,” O’Connell said in a teleconference. “How are these students and these schools to plan for their futures?” That sentiment was echoed by Whittier-area educators, who plan to stay in close contact with state and county education officials to determine a course of action over the next few weeks. “The key here is, will this decision hold and not be reversed prior to graduation?” said Ron Carruth, assistant superintendent of the Whittier Union High School District. WHITTIER – A court ruling Friday suspending the high school exit exam for this year’s seniors could mean about 200 Whittier-area students will not have to pass the test in order to graduate. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman granted a preliminary injunction to suspend the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) for the Class of 2006, potentially allowing thousands of seniors who have failed the test to graduate. Shortly after that ruling, the judge also denied a request by the state to stay the injunction pending an appeal. But the legal battle is far from over, said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “In other words, we don’t want to confuse students or parents by jumping to any conclusions about what’s going to happen,” he added. “We want our `yes’ to mean yes and our `no’ to mean no.” Freedman said he was persuaded by the arguments of the 10 plaintiffs in Valenzuela v. O’Connell, who claimed the exam discriminates against poor students and those who are learning English. “There is evidence in the record that shows that students in economically challenged communities have not had an equal opportunity to learn the materials tested,” Freedman wrote. The judge rejected the state’s argument that the decision should apply only to the six remaining plaintiffs. Four other plaintiffs have since asked to be dropped from the suit, one of them after passing the exam. Freedman said all seniors who have otherwise met the requirements for graduation but have failed the exit exam are affected. “Prospective harm to a student who is otherwise fully qualified to graduate is sufficiently clear. Remaining for a fifth or subsequent year in an already stressed district or attending community college when the student might otherwise be accepted to a four-year institution all demonstrate significant risk of harm,” Freedman wrote. Lonnie McConnell, assistant superintendent of the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District, said it was “really too bad that the lawsuit was filed now – I wish they’d done it a lot earlier.” “The problem I see is that a lot of the students are going to think, `Oh gee, there’s a lawsuit and we don’t have to pass now,’ and all our efforts to get them to pass might not be as great,” McConnell said. “We need to keep encouraging the kids to do as much as they can, in the best way we can.” The ruling affects 47,000 seniors, about 11 percent of the class of 2006, who have yet to pass both the English and math sections of the exam. About 200 seniors on track to graduate in the Whittier area have yet to pass the exit exam, though some are still waiting on results from the March administration of the test. This year’s graduating class was supposed to be the first required to pass the exam to earn a diploma. Carruth said the Whittier Union district has “clearly communicated with parents and students that the exit exam is required to earn a high school diploma.” “If that is reversed, then we would simply go back to our board-approved graduation requirements for granting diplomas,” he added. McConnell said the Norwalk-La Mirada district would wait for the final court decision – “so we’ll keep going and planning as if \ is going to happen.” “But it’s putting a lot of people and school districts up in the air in terms of planning,” he added. Wire reports contributed to this story. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img
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