School test will likely be practice

The Associated Press
Tuesday February 27, 2001

SACRAMENTO — It’s becoming more likely that the ninth-graders who take the state’s first high school graduation test starting next week will be doing it only for practice. 

However, school districts around the state will probably not know for sure until just before the test whether it will count for the students who volunteer to try it, or be just a practice test. 

Gov. Gray Davis’ bill to modify the 1999 law to help it withstand legal challenges is crawling through the Legislature. The 1999 law requires students to pass the new test to graduate, starting with the class of 2004, or today’s ninth-graders. 

Ninth-graders around the state will be taking the reading and writing portion of the new test on March 7 and the math section on March 13. 

The 1999 law allows ninth-graders who volunteer to take the test and, if they do well, to pass it and fulfill their graduation requirement. 

However, in December Davis proposed making the test only a practice exam for ninth-graders this year. 

That’s because he believes all tenth-graders should take the test, beginning next year, so there will be a complete cross-section of students when the state sets the passing grade. If ninth-graders who did well did not have to take the test as tenth-graders, the pool of tenth-graders would be distorted. 

Several lawmakers repeated their concerns Monday that many students will not have been prepared for the test’s tough questions, particularly in algebra. 

More than one-third of current high school graduates do not take algebra and the state just this year made algebra a graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2004.  

Many schools do not have sufficient qualified math teachers. 

“I’ve never taught in a high school in this state that had enough algebra teachers,” said Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, a teacher for 18 years. 

Another former teacher, Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara, said the state has to make sure that all students are able to take algebra, “and not just in summer school taught by an art teacher.” 


On the Net: Read the bill, SB84 by Sen. Jack O’Connell, D-San Luis Obispo, at http://www.sen.ca.gov 

Read about the high school test at