Posted on August 19, 2003
Education Reform Can't Rely on High School Exit Exams, Study Says
PND - Education Reform Can't Rely on High School Exit Exams, Study Says
The benefits of high school exit exams namely, improved curricula and instruction may be outweighed by drawbacks such as high implementation costs and disproportionately low pass rates for minority and low-income students, according to a new study from the Center on Education Policy, a research and advocacy group focused on public education.
Nineteen states currently administer exams that students must pass to receive a diploma, covering 52 percent of the nation's public school students and 55 percent of minority public school students. The Center's research, published in State High School Exit Exams: Put To The Test (140 pages, PDF), found that African American, Hispanic, poor, and disabled students had lower pass rates in reading and math in most cases significantly lower than their schoolmates. With some 80 percent of the nation's minority public school students projected to take such tests by 2008, the report asserts that lawmakers and schools must consider additional methods to reform public education.
"The states are struggling with maintaining a balance between firmness and fairness," said Center director Jack Jennings. "While states want to refrain from watering down requirements, they are seeing low pass rates for minority, poor, and disabled students. States need to monitor the effects of exit exams and continue efforts to speed up implementation of academic interventions and enrichment that can minimize the negative effects of the tests on key populations."
Funded by the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the William T. Grant Foundation, the study also examined the financial costs of exit exams, finding that expenses such as preventive services for at-risk students and professional development for teachers account for a large share of program costs. "States should stop treating exit exams as if they are low-cost or no-cost solutions to reform schools," said Jennings. "If states expect exit exams to improve instruction and raise achievement, they should contribute more to the costs of remediation, professional development, and prevention."
State High School Exit Exams: Put to the Test.
Center on Education Policy Press Release
Primary Subject: Education
Secondary Subject(s): Minorities, Elementary and Secondary Education