We have some concerns about the state's decision to add an exit examination to graduation requirements for high school students starting with the class of 2004.
While we are all in favor of higher graduation standards, we are not certain another standardized test is going to help. Local school districts are already moving to focus their curricula on testing material, having said that teaching students to pass this test or that test is critical. The problem is focusing on a standardized test covering mostly English and math teaches students mostly how to pass a standardized test on English and math. The new requirement will likely further divert already thinned funds and efforts going toward arts, music, science and other topics not as important to the exam. Instead of developing the whole person we seem to be developing a generation of test-takers.
While administrators are right that students must be taught the material on the test to have a fair chance of graduating, that doesn't mean it will be easy or fair. Plans are in the works for intensive assistance in areas of the test with which students struggle, and students will have as many as 10 opportunities to take the test.