In Defense Of The CAHSEE

In a stack of papers called Testing.

  • Feb
  • 10
  • 2006

You study hard in your classes and earn passing grades. You stay on task during your school day, dutifully complete the work waiting at home, stay out of trouble, and attend school as often as your health permits. The remaining hurdle, a test that assesses your ability to show mastery of several 8th grade and many 10th grade state standards in English and mathematics, wavers in the distance, flapping in the wind of your graduation gown. Will you try everything within your power to pass this test?

Of course not! You’ll sue! And many adults will back you up.

Lawsuits against the CAHSEE pop up in the news every now and again. I’ve seen quite a few reports about the latest lawsuit and a thought has been running through my head.

What Took You So Long?

If real problems with the test exist, why did people wait until the last minute to bring these issues up and to bring them into court? Is it because your kids are finally up against the fence and have to face the fact that they’ve squandered their 12 years of free public education? We’ve known about this test as a graduation requirement for the class of 2006 since 2004 and the legislation for the test passed in 1999.

No Opportunity Means A Problem With Schools, Not The Test

Lead attorney Arturo Gonzales makes a good point that “many students in California have not been given a fair opportunity to learn the material on the exam.” That’s a horrible thought, one that indicates bad teachers and bad schools. But I have no idea how he could possibly prove it to be true. Nor do I know how he has the gall to come out and say something that I believe would legally be defined as slander, though I’m not certain since I’m no lawyer.

But let’s pretend that Gonzales is correct. Does that point out a problem with the exam or with schools? Certainly, it points to a problem with both, but an exam is simply one thing and is easily modified. Schools represent a system and if that system is broken, that’s a huge issue that affects 100% of the population, much larger than a single exam. If what Gonzales is saying is correct and it actually can be proven, then that’s as loud a call for complete school reform as I’ve ever heard. Sadly, instead of using this idea to usher in systematic change, the idea is used to attack a test, perhaps one of the only tests that students are actually held accountable for and upon which they simply must perform, taking some responsibility for their own education.

One Giant Step

The CAHSEE, the best thing to happen to the public education system in a long time, is not flawless; it’s a gigantic step in the right direction, though. Now, if we could use the CAHSEE to replace silly, meaningless exams, like the battery of tests that fall under the STAR designation, and encourage colleges to consider CAHSEE scores when weeding through applicants, we’d have a test that students would really care about doing well on.

How Do You Sleep At Night?

Shame on adults who encourage students suing the state for requiring a test that demands proficiency or even mastery of standards that should have been covered 2 years prior to graduation. Shame on lawyers who accept these suits and build cases against a test that will at least begin to set a bar for those who want a high school diploma to mean something.

If high school diplomas are to be significant, not everyone can earn one.

Now, I will admit that there seems to be something fishy with the lack of an alternative to a standardized test. My understanding is that the legislation mandating the CAHSEE states that there be an alternative made available to those who choose to pass this requirement another way than the traditional test. Go ahead and sue on those grounds; I’m happy to support such a case since the state should have been working on that alternative this entire time.

But to sue on the grounds that the material hasn’t been covered in class is ridiculous. If a child is in a class that doesn’t teach him or her what’s needed to pass the CAHSEE, the parent shares blame for not complaining to the school, withdrawing the student from the class, transferring from the school, or requiring the child to attend after school study sessions for the test. At some point, a child must take accountability for his or her learning (or lack thereof). You can lead a horse to water…


1. amber says:

[3/8/2006 - 12:29 pm]

We the sudents should not have to take this CAHSEE test . Or maybe at lease our freshman year but not or sophmore itz hard enoughh trying to keep your grades up and playing sports, and trying to graduate high school

2. Todd says:

[3/8/2006 - 3:35 pm]

So the classes are enough of a burden. I get that. Extra testing certainly doesn’t make your jobs as students easier. You feel like the CAHSEE is something extra on top of what you already have to do. Does it make sense to you, though, that you take a test to prove you’re ready to graduate? It shouldn’t be something extra, I agree. Isn’t it just a part of what you already do in school? I mean, it’s not like you have to show up after school to take the test; it’s given during the school day and it’s not like you study for it the night before. It should be that you’ve studied for it all year and the years before that.

Interesting idea to take the test your freshman year. But what if you take it your freshman year and don’t pass? Should you then have to take it sophomore year? Should you then have to take it every year, until you pass? But, hey, what if you pass your freshman year? Shouldn’t you be allowed to do that?

3. Sheri says:

[3/25/2006 - 6:51 pm]

Ok, well, try this on from a parent’s perspective. I am a parent of 2 kids, ages 16 and 9. Both are Special Ed kids. My 16 year old – despite constant encouragement from me – has not been able to pass either part of the CAHSEE. And she probably never will either. And her 9 year old brother is in the same boat. The problem is with the test, not with the schools. The exam is based on what is taught in REGULAR EDUCATION ONLY!!! NOT what is taught in Special Education, because what is taught in Special Education is MODIFIED!!! Jack O’Connell – the State Superintendent of Public Instruction – was the fool that developed the CAHSEE, completely ignoring Special Education students. While I do agree that there will be some in Special Education that will actually be able to pass the CAHSEE, there greater number of Special Ed students will not be able to pass it for the reason I just cited. In order for Special Education students to learn exactly what is taught on the exam would be to completely do away with Special Education classes, and place them all in Regular Education classes. If that were to happen, the lawsuits that would fly because of that would be just as bad if not worse that what CA is facing right now.

The CAHSEE is illegal because it discriminates against the disabled. It wasn’t until I educated myself that I found out just how wrong Jack O’Connell and Arnie really are. They need to get their heads out of the sand and get real. I have even had to take on the local school board, which is another story in itself. School boards and the state can not realistically say that they are providing a ‘free and appropriate education’ when the approriate part is thrown out the windo like this. They’d rather encourage immigrants to not use English to get by on a daily basis as opposed to helping the disabled. Better hope they don’t become disabled themselves.

4. Todd says:

[3/26/2006 - 1:18 pm]

Good points, Sheri. If special education classrooms are such that certain standards are omitted from instruction, is it reasonable that those students be held accountable for what was never taught?

Then again, if that’s true, do you think that special education students should receive the same diploma that mainstream students or AP students receive?

5. Anonymous says:

[4/7/2006 - 5:41 pm]


6. Todd says:

[4/7/2006 - 8:32 pm]

Anonymous, that’s exactly the direction the last few comments have pointed. If you have something to add to that direction, by all means lay it out. Go ahead and talk about special ed. I’m waiting for that.

But I’m also waiting for someone to answer my question from last time:

do you think that special education students should receive the same diploma that mainstream students or AP students receive?

Maybe the CAHSEE shouldn’t be expected of special ed students. But if there are no standards for earning a diploma, then a diploma means nothing. And if special ed students do not take the CAHSEE, is their diploma equivalent to those of students who do take the CAHSEE? Are we handing out diplomas for progress or achievement of standards? Aren’t the two mutually exclusive in a case like this?

7. JENNY says:

[4/10/2006 - 10:43 am]


8. Todd says:

[4/10/2006 - 2:19 pm]

That won’t win anyone over to your side, Jenny. To suggest that a school “don’t have the resources to pass this test” is a bold accusation. Do you have any evidence to back that up? Any evidence whatsoever? I simply do not believe anything you have to say, though, when you then go on to throw out racial slurs. It doesn’t do anything positive for your argument to cuss and call people “crackers.”

Give me some evidence for why Richmond doesn’t have the resources and how that supports any kind of idea that the CAHSEE is racist. And I’d suggest you do your own research before claiming that others haven’t.

And what does the ethnic majority have to do with any of this? Did someone say latinos are the minority? I must have missed that discussion.

9. Sheri says:

[4/22/2006 - 9:22 am]


Special Ed students should either have alternative assessment testing or be exempted from the CAHSEE altogether. And, no, they should not be held accountable for what is never taught to them. Jack O’Connell refused to give any alternative assessment testing to the CAHSEE for Special Ed students.

As for receiving the ‘same diploma that mainstream and AP students receive…’ I say yes. Yes, based on my above answer. It is not lessening anyone’s diploma. It is not a Special Ed student’s fault that Jack O’Connell is so elitist and discriminatory.

Jenny…I am not an idiot. I have done my research. My comments have nothing to do with racism. It has to do with Special Ed students and the CAHSEE. I live in California, and BOTH of my kids attend schools IN CALIFORNIA. I happen to be one of those ‘crackers.’ Meaning, I am white. But, that’s not what’s being discussed here. The physical condition of Richmond High or any other high school has nothing to do with a test, outside of the physical conditions being a distraction daily. The high school my oldest attends has been in grave disrepair for 20 plus years, which goes back to when I attended there. As far as browns and Latinos being the majority and taking over…perhaps the neighborhood you reside in looks like your high school student body…more browns and Latinos than ‘crackers.’ Some towns/cities all across the US have higher percentages of people of color other than white. Perhaps Richmond (City of) is that way. If you don’t like it, move. If you don’t like the way your high school looks, complain to the school board about it. You won’t effect change if you just sit there and keep your mouth shut. And name calling, along with racial slurs most certainly will get you nowhere, let alone respect.

Todd…handing out a diploma for progress (applies to Special Ed only) and for achievement of standards (Regular AND Special Ed)works here, since both apply. Special Ed students are achieving standards that the school districts have set forth – passing required courses and getting required credits. Regular Ed students that don’t pass the CAHSEE perhaps have some issue going on (possibly being lazy might apply here). But, I would like you to further explain your point of the 2 being mutually exclusive. I think I understand what you mean by it. But an explanation would be most helpful to make sure I am correctly understanding you.


10. Sheri says:

[4/23/2006 - 3:30 pm]

If for some reason, you can’t access the above link, I will repost entire article here:

Taken from The Press-Enterprise, Sunday, April 23, 2006:

“California tests remain too rigorous

01:04Am PDT on Sunday April 23, 2006


That spring ritual is back — California standards tests measuring student learning under the State Testing and Reporting (STAR) program. Recent studies show that STAR’s language arts tests are unfair and innaccurate, leading to lower scores and unwarranted sanctions for hundreds of schools.

For nearly a decade, educators have complained about state testing in language arts. So we decided to examine writing assessment and language arts passages from the Department of Education Web site. We analyzed proficiency levels, used the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Scale on 50 California reading test passages and studied test passages from the Web sited of 35 other states.

We were amazed by the flaws we found last year. Thus we began our own spring ritual — warning the public about the pitfalls of these tests (“State exams flunk readability test,” May 1, 2005).

Until these tests are improved we’ll perform annual analyses, share our findings and urge state officials to do their jobs better.

Examination of this year’s reading passages (grades 2-6) found 71 percent with reading levels above grade. Moreover, 42 percent were beyond grade level by more than one year, and a staggering 29 percent exceeded grade by more than three years. California’s passages averaged 1.2 years above grade, higher than that of every other state studied — and almost half a year over passages from 2004.

Our findings from a writing test analysis were equally appaling. Fourth-grade California writing scores declined from 14 percent proficient in 2001 to less than 2 percent proficient in 2005. This logic-defying decline came as fourth-graders posted double-digit gains on their language arts scores – from 33 percent proficient in 2001 to 47 percent proficient in 2005.

Officials dropped California’s flawed writing results from their 2004-2005 Web site postings. Clearly, California students are not as low-achieving as the test suggests.

Most educators feel California’s standards need periodic revision — a process promised when standards were first adopted. Such a process would likely lead to refinement of language arts tests.

DeWayne Namson, a former UCR professor and Jurupa Unified School District assistant superintendent, is an art teacher and co-principal investigator of Mathematical ACTS, a National Science Foundation Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant. Gregg Nelsen, a former teacher and administrator at JUSD, is an educational consultant.”

End of article…

So, if I understand this right, either the STAR (I’ll include all other state madated tests here, CAHSEE included) test is seriously lacking in how it tests, or it shows students test scores to be so low so that the district can apply for more state and federal aid, or posts such high scores, that it manages to keep state and federal hands out of each individual district’s affairs and coffers. It also seems to imply that such testing is slanted to favor one group of kids over another. That generally tends to be a given with state mandated testing.

Since the STAR is so seriously flawed, then it would be a given that the CAHSEE is just as flawed, if not more so. Especially since Jack O’Connell devised the CAHSEE. The heat needs to continue to be applied to him, and people need to educate themselves about this. Jack O’Connell and the like need to get it that they will not continue to draw a nice cushy paycheck at the expense of my kids. While there should always be a set of standards to adhere to and acheive, thre should be considerations given to those that will never be able to reach goals that were never meant for them to reach in the first place.

11. Sheri says:

[4/23/2006 - 6:23 pm]

Ok, I found some more articles from The Press-Enterprise, which I will post one at a time to make the reading easier…

First article –

‘Testing Tensions

Seniors should support their classmates’ quest to graduate
10:00PM PST on Saturday, April 1, 2006


Seniors at Colton High School are beginning to make waves about the Colton Joint Unified SChool District board’s decision to offer certificates of completiong to students who fail to pass the California High School Exit Exam.

The seniors’ primary concern seems to be that students will be allowed to participate in commencement activities without anything to distinguish true graduates from those who will receive a certificate of completion.

I wish some of those seniors were more politically engaged. I was a school board member last year when the board voted to offer certificates of completion and to allow nongraduates to participate in the commencement ceremony. It was a difficult decision, but the school board made the right decision for the following reasons:

First, according to CJUSD officials, the class of 2005 — tracking students across all four years of high school — has a 31 percent dropout rate.

With the added requirements of passign algebra and the exit exam, Colton is faced with an even larger number of potention dropouts.

Second, at a recent school board meeting the district reported that of the 1,413 enrolled seniors in the district, only 7776 non-special ed students have met the graduation requirements (credits and passing the exit exam).

Additionally, it was reported that about 110 students can still graduate if they pass the exit exam in May. Unfortunately, these students’ test results will not be available until after graduation. If the district prevented them from participating in graduation and learned later that they had met graduation requirements, it would be a tragedy.

Finally, it was reported that 183 students had passed the exit exam but did not have enough credits to graduate. To some degree, the Colton school distrcit has failed these students.

If a student can pass the high school exit exam, the student should have been able to pass his or her courses. The fact that 183 students don’t have enough credits to finish high school suggests that the district dropped the ball.

The last issue that needs to be clarified is that only students who successfully complete all of the graduation requirements except passing the exit exam will be allowed to participate in the commencement ceremony. These students will ahve met every requirement that last year’s graduates had to meet, in addition to passing algebra.

To make these students ineligible to participate in the commencement ceremony seemed cruel. And to allow them to participate in the ceremony but to single them out seemed equally harsh.

These students should be encouraged to continue. They are so close, and we must provide incentives and opportunities for them to achieve that final step — a high school diploma. That is what this year’s senior class should be fighting for; they should be fighting for their classmates to succeed.

Tobin Brinker is a former member of the Colton JOint Unified School District Board of Education.

End of this article

12. Todd says:

[4/23/2006 - 7:19 pm]

Thanks for following up your comments here, Sheri. I think we’ll be better off if you just provide links to articles that hold relevance to this discussion instead of pasting the entire article here. You’re giving some good info, though. Your initial remarks in the first paragraph of comment #9.

But I disagree with you in the second paragraph. To hand out the exact same diploma to AP, mainstream, and special ed students suggests that their education has been the same. And I feel that does lessen everyone’s diploma in the end. If everyone in my class earned an A, then no one’s A would mean anything. But surely they all would receive an A if I measured a different thing for each student.

Try to obtain objectivity in assessment of ability and special ed, ELL, and other parents go nuts. Try to be flexible enough to accommodate everyone and the integrity of the public education system is called into question.

Since the STAR is so seriously flawed, then it would be a given that the CAHSEE is just as flawed, if not more so.

I think it’s a bit of a jump to assume that the CAHSEE is poorly constructed simply because the STAR is. I’m a teacher and I’ve seen both tests. The STAR is insanely wrong, though I’ve signed paperwork prohibiting me from specifically citing reasons to support my belief. The CAHSEE, however, does a much better job of measuring student achievement of standards.

The article you quoted in comment #11 is full of holes in logic. Here’s just one:

If a student can pass the high school exit exam, the student should have been able to pass his or her courses.

Not true. I don’t know about other states, but the CAHSEE only measures through 10th-grade standards. A student can pass the CAHSEE and still fail other courses, particularly those aimed at higher grade-level standards. Further, passing the exam is only part of the measurement of whether or not that student should earn a diploma. It’s not the sole arbiter of graduation and passing it doesn’t make all other high school courses moot. To think so is ludicrous and myopic.

As for my claim that the two are mutually exclusive, if we say that a diploma means that students have passed certain courses (which is what we suggest as we move for classes to be standards based), then the diploma is an extension of maintaining those standards. And if we have certain students who have not attained those standards, even if for legitimate reasons, then those students cannot have the same diploma. And if the requirement for one segment is to pass a test, but that requirement doesn’t exist for another segment, then we aren’t talking about the same diploma.

In order for a diploma to mean anything to the world after high school, it simply must mean the same thing for every person who holds it. That’s the goal, far away from it as we are. To begin suggesting that a diploma means attaining standards for this group, but is for growth for this other group, then where is the meaning in even earning a diploma? What good is it if it means different things in different contexts?

13. Sheri says:

[4/23/2006 - 7:48 pm]

Next article…

“Degree of doubt

Plenty of employers and colleges will accept students who fail the test and lack a diploma

12:42 AM PDT on Sunday, April 9, 2006

The Press-Enterprise

Inland seniors who have yet to pass the California High School Exit Exam and are concerned about their future without a diploma might have little to worry about, a Press-Enterprise survey suggests.

Representatives at a sampling of Inland businesses, corporartion, universities and other public institutions said nongraduates can land unskilled, entry-level jobs, continue to higher education or join the military. Employers from small retailers to major department store chains, said they don’t require a high school diploma for nonprofessional positions.

Respondents said the diploma is one factor in their hiring and that they must balance their applicants’ education with manpower needs and the worker pool.

‘On our application, it’s optional to fill in the education section,’ Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Fogelman said. ‘They (nongraduates) certainly would have opportunities to work for our stores, and many do.’

Riverside County employs about 17,000 workers, and nearly all of the nonprofessional positions do not require a high school diploma.

‘Basically, we have de-emphasized diplomas and degrees as indicators of skill position for some time,’ said Ron Komers, the county’s director of human resources.

‘For most of our jobs, we focus on what the jobs require in terms of skills, knowledge and ability, and we test those directly,’ he said.

Komers said the county determined many years ago it was better off testing directly for English, math and spelling skills rather than relying on a piece of paper from high school that does not prove ability.

California schools Superintendent Jack O’COnnell said in a February interview that high school diplomas are still valuable. O’Connell has talked to many employers and they have told him that a diploma is still important to them in their hiring, his spokeswoman, Tina Jung, said by phone.


The California School Boards Association originally estimated that nearly 100,000 seniors statewide would not receive a diploma this June for failing the test and consequently would not be considered graduates. That number has dropped by about 25,000 because Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law in January exempting special-education students for one year.

For the rest, many Inland school districts will issue certificates of competion or achievement – not diplomas – to seniors who otherwise meet graduation requirements. The consolation prize doesn’t cut it though, with many young people who’ve grown up equating a diploma with the Holy Grail.

Tiffany Smith, an 18-year-old senior at Banning High School in Riverside County, has not passed the math portion of the exit test. Tiffany said she does not want to be left behind in the job market.

‘It would be a struggle for me my whole life,’ she said.

Likewise, classmate Diana Felix, 18, a senior who recently passed the state test after taking a special preparation class offered by the school, said getting a sdiploma translates to a better career and better pay.

O’Connell agrees. The schools chief said he introduced the exit exam to restor value to the diploma. Requiring students to pass the test to earn their diplomas ensures employers that today’s seniors can read, write, and solve basic math problems, he said.

‘The diploma should not simply be a certificate of seat time,’ he said in an interview. ‘Having a diploma should mena that students have a higher level of communication skills and better math skills.’

O’Connell, who as a legislator drafted the bill creating the test, said graduates could expect to earn a decent living from a high school diploma only a few decades ago.

‘Letting students graduate today without even basic skills leaves them defenseless and unable to survive in the world of tomorrow…,’ he said in a recent speech. ‘And that is not just costly, it is immoral.’


Officials at Inland colleges and universities said they would not rule out admitting someone lacking a high school diploma.

Bill Marchese, spokesman for Mt. San Jacinto College, which serves southwestern Riverside COunty, the San Jacinto Valley and San Gorgonio Pass areas, said the only requirement to enroll in any California community college is that the student be 18 or older. Community college graduates can transfer to a university.

While UC Riverside and Cal State San Bernardino applicants typically must have a diploma or equivalent and meet grade-point-average and standardized-test requirements to enroll, those institutions say they have flexibility to set local policy.

“It’s possible that even though a student has not passed the California High School Exit Exam, they may be accepted on the strength of their application,” UCR spokesman Ricardo Duran said.

Duran said the university is developing new criteria, recognizing this as a transition yeat. The California State University system also is looking into a new policy to deal with students who’ve failed the exam.


U.S. Department of Labor data lists very few blue-collar, unskilled jobs that require a high-school diploma. Many employers offer on-the-job training.

Jack Brown, president and chief executive officer of Stater Bros. Markets, said many of his employees start as part-timers, while still in school. Nearly 40 applicants a week go through the store’s checker-training program.

“We’re basically an up-from-within company, so we very seldom hire people who have not come up through our entry-level ranks,” said Brown, whose company employs 13,300 of its 17,000 workers in the Inland area. “We evaluate their ability to perform on the job.”

At U.S. Rubber Recycling Inc. in Riverside, which manufactures high-tech rubber-flooring products for sports use and employs more than 30 people, the marketplace determines the value of an educational certificate.

In the Inland area it is difficult to find qualified workers for entry-level jobs, said Rick Snyder, president and chief executive officer.

“It would be tough to reject applicants just because they lack a diploma,” he said.

Jack Joned Trucking Inc. in Chino has more than 100 employees. {resident Valerie Liese said while drivers must be at least 21 years old, she would have no problem hiring an applicant with a certificate of completion, especially because drivers are in short supply.

“We like to see at least a high-school diploma, but as long as they can read street signs and map books, I’d be thrilled,” Liese said.

A recent survey by the Yucaipa Chamber of COmmerce of 400 members found that larger businesses and corporations with their own training programs are more likely than smaller businesses to hire high school seniors who have less than a diploma or General Educational Development certificate.

Some employers, such as The Home Depot, ask for the number of years of education completed and the types of degrees or certificates earned, but few inquire specifically about the diploma.

Even when a job applicant does ask, such as Sears’ online form, employers say they often hire nongraduates anyways.


In the past, the armed forces accepted only diplomas or GED certificates. Today, they also consider certificates of completion.

The U.S. Department of DEfense started studying the issue nearly five years ago as exit exams took hold across the nation. Nearly half the states now use some form of the testing, said Terry Backstrom, education-service specialist for the U.S. Army Recruiting Command.

Under updated Army recruiting rules, applicants who complete all graduation credits but fail the state test must be at least six months beyond their high school completion date and present a school official’s letter verifying they met all requirements except for passing the state exam.

Janice Hagar, spokeswoman for the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, said individuals are evaluated on a case-by-case basis for enlistment, and failing the exit exam does not automatically disqualify an applicant.

Those who failed the exam and lack a diploma can enlist six months after their class’ graduation date if the applicant has attended class through the last day of his senior year and completed all classroom requirements to graduate.

Hagar said the Corps does not expect that California’s exit exam will affect its recruiting efforts.


Employers and educators say time will determine the exit exam’s value.

“I’d say there is value in having completed four years of high school,” Riverside COunty ‘s Kormer said. “I would say there is further value demonstrated by being a graduate or passing the high school proficiency test.”

Mike Chavez, spokesman for Californians for Justice, which opposes the exit exam, said the high school diploma remains a worthwhile goal.

“Our larger concerns are whether all students have access to a quality education, good teachers and enough textbooks,” he said.

Jim Lanich, president of Sacramento-based California Business for Education Excellence, which supports the exam, said that before the California High School Exit Exam, the diploma only proved that a student sat in a classroom for 13 years.

With the state test, it now shows that its owner can add and subtract at a seventh-grade level and read and write at least at a 10th-grade level.

“It’s the absolute minimum,” he said.

Staff writer Jim Miller contributed to this report.

Reach Steve Fetbrandt at (951) 763-3473 or

End of this story…

14. Sheri says:

[4/23/2006 - 7:58 pm]

Lol, Todd. I’m not laughing at you. I’m laughing at myself, because after I just posted #13…which took forever to type out…I thought the same thing you just mentioned…post the link only…easier for sure…

‘Second Lawsuit filed agains California’s exit exam’

I tried to find the link in the PE for this one, and came up empty. But at least the title is there, if you can find the link in the PE, the please paste it here. Thanks. That articale was published on April 18, 2006.

‘Multiple-choice Education’

And hopefully, sometime Monday, when I have had enough rest and such, I will be able to respond to your comments as well, Todd. Sometimes when I post my thoughts on something, it makes sense at the moment. Then when someone else posts a differing viewpoint, their makes more sense to me. And it ends up being that what they said what what I meant to say, but worded it so completely wrong.

15. Sheri says:

[4/25/2006 - 6:47 am]

I say that the CAHSEE is poorly constructed because ethically, morally, consciously, legally it is. To a point it does measure a student’s ability in math and ELA. But, it tests ONLY Regular Ed students, NOT Special Ed. Therefore, it is poorly constructed, because this is clearly a test that is flawed, and poorly designed, and does not take into consideration Special Ed whatsoever. The CAHSEE is based on what is taught in Regular Ed classes ONLY. Special Ed courses are MODIFIED. So, tell me how Special Ed kids can pass a test that is not based on what they are taught? As a teacher, I’d think you’d see this. Even if a student passes all required courses and earns all required credits, and yet fails the CAHSEE, said student is never given a diploma, no matter how many attempts to pass are given. Students are given ONLY 6 attempts, period, no matter what O’Connell may say otherwise. The man can’t count to 6, and it shows.

A diploma would mean one and the same for students who pass vs. those (primarily Special Ed) who don’t. As long as both have done everything the district has asked of them (passing course/credit requirement), then the only thing separating them would be passing the CAHSEE. Why should a Special Ed student be expected to pass an exam that was not designed with them in mind? There are no alternatives to the CAHSEE for Special Ed, period. O’Connell refuses to devise any. Simply because he refuses to admit he screwed up huge. And that he doesn’t have a heart.

Special Ed students – many of them – have learning levels far below their current grade level. My 16 year old is in 11th grade, and her math and reading grades are MORE than 2 grades below 11th. She is passing all district required courses (she gets an A/B average in ALL courses) and getting all district required credits. Only thing preventing her from getting her diploma is the CAHSEE, despite all our best efforts to help her. Her diploma would not be ‘just a piece of paper showing nothing more than 13 years of seat time.’ So, tell me how in the world she would even begin to pass an exam knowing this? And it’s not just my 16 year old that was born like this. Yet O’Connell wants to punish her and her sibling and all others like them simply for the way they were born. HELLO!!! They didn’t have a choice. O’Connall has a choice. Yet he chooses to continue to be the arrogant, ignorant, unsympathetic, uncaring, insensitive fool that he shows himself to be.

Yet, the flip side is that a diploma does NOT prove ability or skills. Just because someone can do simple 10th grade math and read at an 8th grade level, doesn’t mean they have the ability or skill to do construction work. Not everyone knows how to use a Skilsaw. So, the math/reading levels wouldn’t mean jack in construction. How many illiterate people are out there that wing wing their way through such jobs? Illiterate being someone my age (I’m 40) or older who has a diploma but can’t spell diploma, yet alone read the word. Now, that’s an outrage right there.

16. Sheri says:

[4/28/2006 - 12:16 pm]

Amber mentions sports in her post on here about the CAHSEE…sports are not a necessity as it directly relates to education…they are called ‘extra-curricular’ for a reason…I say we should completely do away with all of the extra-curricular foo foo stuff like after school sports – football, volleyball, tennis, etc…until we master the reading writing and arithmetic portion which makes up the meat and bones of an education. As for all of these state and federally madated tests – STAR, CAPA, CAHSEE – completely do away with those as well, because kids are spending far too much class time prepping for such tests alone, that they aren’t learning what they really ned to learn…which is what some – if not all – of such tests seek to test. As for AP tests, that’s completely different, because AP tests are based on actual class subjects, and students taking such classes are college and university bound. Thus the AP tests.

17. lil says:

[5/5/2006 - 9:18 pm]

hi, i go to a private school, This is just a kid’s perspective. So I’ve never really felt stressed about taking a test, especially something like the CAHSEE compared to the SAT. Honestly, the CAHSEE tests only up to 8th grade math and 10th grade english, which isn’t as horrible as you guys make it sound. I think we should have the CAHSEE. I actually think they should make it harder, because only knowing up to eighth grade math and tenth grade math isn’t that good if you have been to school up to 12th grade. I don’t think the test is discriminating anyone other than special ed people. It’s up to the student to learn and the teacher to teach (which I’ll admit not all teachers do).
Also, about the special ed thing, it would be quite difficult to make a test that would be fair to both special ed and regular ed kids. All we can do about that is make 2 tests. One for regular ed kids, one for special ed kids. I don’t know. This is just my opinion.

Also, I don’t love tests, but anyone who writes with all capital letters about how much they hate the test is just plain weird. =)

18. ashley says:

[5/10/2006 - 7:27 am]

As a senior in high school whom passed the test her first time, i must say the test is not very difficult. There is no reason why anyone should not pass the test if they truly understand it. Many students complain that they don’t remeber the material , they freeze on tests and that the test is bias. i am latina living in avery low income neighborhood attending a school that is at risk at being taken over by the gevernment because our score aren’t high enough. i am not a straight “A” student and i struggle in math. the way i see it is, if you can’t pass and 8th/ 10th grade level test, how are you supposed to survive in the real world? i know i don’t wnat someone who can not do his/her 12 times tables to be trying to give me change after i purchase somehting. i know i don’t someone who can not comprehend a tenth grade level of reading/ gramatical structure reading my job application. There are alternatives. every school is required to give extra help to those who do not pass the test. i know my school emphasises on every student passing the test(thanks to our new pricipal). I understand there are studnets who struggle and feel it is not fair, but there is help. all you have to do is want it.

19. Sheri says:

[5/10/2006 - 12:25 pm]

The help is not easily accessible for Special Ed. As for it being easy to pass…based on what exactly? NOt every school district provides help, even when constantly asked for. Special Ed is midified in every form from Regular Ed. Those of you that are students and say it’s easy to pass or whatever, you don’t have the first clue as to how Special Ed really is. Many people survive in the real world with less than an 8th grade math level. Being Latina has nothing to do with any of this. Jack O’Connell is ignorant and has no heart. Do your research before you make another post on here. I have done mine.

20. Todd says:

[5/10/2006 - 7:18 pm]

A bit harsh, Sheri. The point of Ashley’s ethnicity is, I’m sure, in response to Jenny’s comment. I take it that her point is that ethnicity doesn’t decide how well you do on the CAHSEE, as she reportedly passed it on the first try. Jenny first mentioned it and Ashley’s comment is a follow up to that.

Her point is that the test is easy based on the fact that it only tests 10th grade and some 8th grade standards. The hypothetical examples she provides attempt to state that basis. Did you read her comment?

And who are you to say who does and does not know about special ed? How do you know that Ashley doesn’t have a brother with an IEP? Or a friend with a 504 plan? Or an aunt who’s dyslexic? Because they disagree with you they “don’t have the first clue as to how Special Ed really is”?

As for people surviving in the world with less than an 8th grade math level, that may be true but it certainly isn’t something to aspire to. Nor do I think it’s something to brag about.

Last, but not least, you are using any excuse you can to jump all over Jack O’Connell. I agree in that he’s foolish to declare, than on the entire planet, there’s no alternative to the CAHSEE. However, the faults in the test should be discussed more than the character traits of O’Connell.

21. Laura says:

[5/11/2006 - 1:06 pm]

I don’t know… One thing about special ed is that, while I’m all for using alternative approaches for kids with different learning needs, I don’t know that they should be exempted from basic adacemic requirements. Certainly they should get the resources they need to learn more effectively(smaller classes, physical accomodations, more structured environment, etc.). Is a learning disabled student more deserving of a diploma than one with no learning disabilities but a low-normal IQ and identical academic skills and level of motivation?

I’m all for awarding certificates of completion, allowing graduation ceremony participation, etc., but if someone with 2nd grade level academic skills has a diploma, it DOES lessen the value for everyone else.

My cousin is chronologically 21 but mentally about 12 years old. CAHSEE did not affect her. She has a diploma but is not qualified for any job that would require a high school diploma. There is no way that she would pass a GED. She is also either minimally emplyable or unemployable. Some of this comes from her poor reading and very poor math skills(she would have trouble counting what coins could make up 73 cents), but more of it comes from social and emotional immaturity, which the test doesn’t measure.

Her high school diploma helps her get interviews, but the only jobs she has ever received were through a job coaching program. Of these, she was either fired for flakiness/mouthing off or quit because they told her to do something she didn’t want to do. Even if she was more motivated and mature though, she couldn’t maintain a job that involved any kind of unexpected situations or required critical thinking.

Her diploma hasn’t helped her, and it has hurt those who are able to complete a regular ed high school program but who aren’t able to get a college degree, because if anyone can get a diploma, it is no longer a meaningful signal. One thing that I dislike about some(not all) special ed programs is that they presume that the students are incapable of learning rather than merely requiring a different approach. My cousin started in regular ed but was a poor student. In 6th grade, she had 3rd grade level skills and transferred to special ed. In the next 6 years, her skills did not significantly improve(unlike earlier when they were improving, but more slowly than normal), which makes me wonder if she would have been better off just dropping out of regular ed.

22. Sheri says:

[5/11/2006 - 7:42 pm]

Heck, ok I give up. I NEVER said that having less than an 8th grade level in anything was/is something to aspire to or brag about. I mention it as an acknowledgment that there are many who have gone before with that level or less of an education and are holding down jobs they shouldn’t be. While others will use ethinicity as a ‘reason’ to use for why they are having difficulty in passing this exam.

As for jumping all over O’Connell, show me how/where/why he doesn’t deserve it? He refuses to even devise alternatives to the CAHSEE for Special Ed students. There are those – Regular AND Special Ed – that are truly lazy, and don’t care about their education, and won’t even put in the effort to try to learn and get somewhere.

Dropping out isn’t the answer either. It means that one didn’t finish the task assigned to them. Maybe what everyone would like to see happen is have kids like mine just institutionalized once they finish the required ’13 years of seat time’ so that they are no longer an embarassment to any of you. Enjoy having your taxes continue to skyrocket because of it. And keep voting Jackie baby into office, because he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone other than himself and the paycheck he receives at the expense of everyone else. Cold hearted fool he is.

23. Todd says:

[5/11/2006 - 7:58 pm]

It’s not a question of whether O’Connell deserves it or not. It’s that using the CAHSEE as an O’Connell-bashing session takes the emphasis off the discussion of the actual exam and really gets us nowhere.

There are those – Regular AND Special Ed – that are truly lazy, and don’t care about their education, and won’t even put in the effort to try to learn and get somewhere.

What’s your point? Those are exactly the kinds of students the CAHSEE is designed to kick in the butt. You’re right, Sheri, those students are out there. Doesn’t the CAHSEE put more heat on them to take responsibility for their education?

Institutionalization is not an option as far as I’m concerned and I’d like to think that my readers feel that way, too. That was a pretty big leap in logic there. Don’t jump to such extreme conclusions.

24. Sheri says:

[5/12/2006 - 9:13 am]

My point is that I am tired of people making blanket statements, instead of being more specific. Statements along the lines of that the CASHEE isn’t so hard, how tough it is to learn let alone test in a school that is literally falling apart, being Latin/African American/etc to use as an excuse for not passing the CAHSEE, etc. You get the idea I’m sure. If I am not expected to ‘just to such extreme conclusions’ then none else should either. Yet, other have and continue to do so. And mine wasn’t even a ‘leap of logic/ or a ‘jump to conclusions.’ By discriminating against the disabled like the CAHSEE does, then, they (the disabled)will drop out of school get pregnant, go ont Welfare, be institutionalized, and the like. Which drives up the cost of everything. Personally, I am tired of having my taxes go up because people refues to have a heart for the disabled. And Jack O’Connell refuses to devise any alternative assessments for the disabled, and refuses to exempt the disabled from the CAHSEE. What makes him so dang special? The same thing that makes Arnie special. NOTHING!!! I take responsibility for my kids’ education, and have tried every damn thing possible to help them pass. I can do only so much, especially when I have asked my kids’ teachers for extra help, tutoring etc all to no avail. It falls on deaf ears. Even the school board here is continuing to sit on their hands and not help either.

25. lil says:

[5/12/2006 - 6:38 pm]

I’m sorry, but we can’t change everything just because you want it that way. Not to be mean, but Special Ed is called special ed for a reason. That means they are different from regular ed. I’ll admit that our school system is absolutely horrifying (at least in my opinion) which you can disagree if you’d like, but if that were the only reason, that would mean that everybody in one school would all fail the CAHSEE because the teachers don’t teach. Why are there students that pass and fail from the same school? Because some might work harder than others. Not everybody deserves to do well in the future when they slack off like that in high school. If the students are lazy in high school, too bad. I don’t care about them because being lazy is their choice.

26. Sheri says:

[5/13/2006 - 9:01 pm]

I never said to change things because I want it that way. Duh, lil, I know why Special Ed is called Special Ed, ok? I know they are different. What is your point on either one of those? The school system being horrifying is not the only reason, and I have never said it was. The are other things that factor into why some kids pass a test or fail a test. Why are there students from the same school that pass/fail? Because the ones that pass apply themselves, whereas the ones that fail tend to be lazy and slackers. Does this apply to Special Ed students as well? You bet it does. But, those in Special Ed that fail are far and few between than are Regular Ed. I know this for a fact to be true. I agree that not everyone deserves to do well post high school when they slack off in school. Because my eldest is unable to pass the CAHSEE (she’s in Special Ed), does that mean she’s slacking of fin school? Hell no!!! NOr does it mean that her 13 years of schooling are nothing more than ‘seat time.’ SHe busts her butt to get ALL required credits AND pass ALL required classes. I do my level best and then some to help her pass the CAHSEE. You have to realize that Special Ed classes are MODIFIED from the Regular Ed curricula, therefore Special Ed students are NOT taught what is on the CAHSEE. And my kids are not lazy either, and I don’t care about the lazy, slacker students either.

27. Ana Medez says:

[5/23/2006 - 4:01 pm]

Hey i think the cahsee is not cool because what if you pass your classes like math and english and you still dont pass the cahsee so i think that we should be taking that test.

28. Sheri says:

[5/25/2006 - 2:50 pm]

And the CAHSEE is yet another in a series of tests/exams that takes up precious actual learning time. Teachers and students time are both wasted because the teachers are now forced to ‘teach to the test’ and students are forced to ‘learn to the test.’ Which again reinforced the ’13 years of seat time’ remark from Jack. If he doesn’t want ’13 years of seat time,’ then either devise alternative assessment testing for Special Ed students like mine, or exempt them outright from taking the CAHSEE. The ONLY Special Ed students that should not be exeempted from the CAHSEE are the lazy, slacker, troublemaking ones. There are other ways, I’m sure, of holding schools, students, teachers and parents (ones that don’t care etc)accountable. Devising more and more tests is NOT the way to do it, because kids are not learning a thing. Subjects such as music appreciation, history, art appreciation, etc now have no value, and are falling to the wayside, because of tests like the CAHSEE. I can understand having AP classes, and testing for those classes. Those are necessary.

29. John says:

[6/15/2006 - 5:51 pm]

Fuck the CAHSEE!!!! I Just got the note back that I Failed The Math section of the CAHSEE. I got a 336 out of 350. Fucking Test is a crap of garbage.

30. Sheri says:

[6/18/2006 - 2:05 pm]

Could be worse Joh. Try being my 16 year old, whom has yet to break the 300 point barrier of EITHER portion of the CAHSEE. And, come to find out, the CAHSEE prep class here where we live, is being done ONLY as a summer school class. Why should my daughter have to give up a big chunk of her summer because the school district doesn’t want to yank her out of 1 class per day during the regular school year to tutor her? The district is going to be spending far more money than is necessary to have the prep class, as well as transport her to/from summer school. And that is despite the fact they more than bellyached over the fact that their new $50 million high school has gone $10 million OVER BUDGET, and they are bellyaching about how to fund the extra $10 million. AND, they want to have the city share the cost of putting in a $2 million swimming pool at the new high school. The city said no, citing the fact that the school district poorly planned to have additional funds in reserve in the event things came up with the construction of the high school itself. So, I don’t feel sorry for the school district. They have plenty of property that they own that can be sold to help cover the costs. I know this because I have attended enough board meetings where such things have been discussed. And they’re going to pull this prep class thing? How are they paying for it? I’d love to see what their ‘reasoning’ will be now.

31. Silent says:

[6/22/2006 - 7:23 pm]

I think CAHSEE should not count as getting a High School Diploma. It should be only be a test how teachers teach students the entire year.Specially for 9, 10, and 11th graders they shouldn’t be taking the CAHSEE.They get depressed more than then Seniors.Also,Seniors get depresses and there’s where they start dropping-off of school.I think you should really think about this,and what harm and depression were putting our kids on.My 16 year old daugther doesn’t even eat nomore of just thinking about the CAHSEE and always blaming her self she’ll forget everything during the test.Us as parents should make a diferrence seeing our child in this situation.

32. Sheri says:

[6/23/2006 - 7:32 pm]

No kidding, Silent. Make the teachers take the CAHSEE, and see what their scores end up being. Then, maybe they will see how tough it is for kids. Especially when you’re talking specifically about Special Ed kids like mine. Don’t make my kids responsible for being born with a disability. It is not their fault that their schools, some teachers, and the district as a whole fail these kids miserably on a daily basis. As for us parents making a difference seeing our kids in this situation…what do you think I am doing? I am doing that very thing. Why else would all of my posts here and elsewhere prove abundantly clear that I am fighting FOR my kids and I AM making a difference.

33. Todd says:

[6/26/2006 - 8:45 pm]

Is it possible that your math skills just are not sharp enough? Or that they are not as strong as you like to think they are? Or that you blew off the test? Or that you weren’t paying attention at some point over the last few years? Or that you just had a bad day? If a test shows that your skills aren’t high, that does not automatically mean there’s a problem with the test. There is another perfectly reasonable conclusion about your abilities to reach, you know.

The fact of the matter is that perhaps students *should* be depressed if, after 12 years of education, they cannot show control of 10th grade (and some 8th grade) state standards. I’m not being sarcastic when I write this, but perhaps some counseling is in order. A certain amount of disappointment could be healthy. To go overboard in that department might suggest a problem much greater than the CAHSEE.

Your implication that teachers are not fighting for the kids is insulting, Sheri. We should *all* be on the side of the kids and that means setting high benchmarks as well as ensuring equity. I am fighting for my students the full 182 days of the school year. Further, your implication at the low intelligence level of teachers (and I do believe that’s what you were getting at with that “make the teachers take the CAHSEE” dig; I don’t buy that you were making a comment on how difficult the test is) shows an overall attitude toward public education and toward teachers. Yes, the attitude of teachers has an impact on a classroom, but so does the attitude of parents. If you show your child that you think the entire school system works against the kids as you’ve implied in that last comment, what do you think your child’s attitude toward schools is going to end up being, positive or negative?

To state that “schools, some teachers, and the district as a whole fail these kids miserably on a daily basis” is just another way of passing responsibility from the student to another system. Is it possible that students fail themselves, too? You cannot let your personal experience with this, and your emotional investment in this discussion with your child affected so directly by this issue, color your perception. There are arguments against the CAHSEE, particularly when Special Ed. students are involved. What I’m reading from you, Sheri, is a general disagreement with the CAHSEE, though. I take it that you are against the test even for mainstream kids.

Is it such a horrible thing that, if we want a diploma to mean something, students be forced to show their mastery of some skills in the way that academia deems fit, the standardized test? Is that such a terrible idea? What do diplomas mean if there are no standards for skills mastered necessary to earn one?

34. Sheri says:

[6/28/2006 - 7:45 pm]

Ok, Todd, you win. Apparently, I was born last night. And I don’t know a damn thing. Yet again, and this being implied by someone that doesn’t know 2 monkeys about me. Or how I feel/think. Just reads into my posts and makes more out of them that what the real actual intent was/is. You can take my posts however you want to. You will anyways. Who am I to stop you from doing so? I have NEVER been against mainstream kids taking the CAHSEE. So where you jumped in logic on that one is beyond me.

So, in closing, I say fine whatever. Y’all are right. Have it your way. Which in turn means I fail my kids every damn day and that all I do is pass the buck. As soon as y’all live in my household 24/7, stop making posts as though you do when you don’t. None of you know the first thing that goes on in my household. I am not passing the buck nor faillng my kids. Why else would I have asked for specific CAHSEE-related courses be provided for my 16 year old when I did her annual IEP earlier this spring? Was it so that I could pass the buck? Why make her give up 6 weeks of her summer to take the CAHSEE prep course and exam? Summer school should be only for those whom have failed a class or lacking a credit for them to get that taken care of. NOT to have to be punished for meeting everything the district has required, because they don’t want to give the extra CAHSEE tutoring DURING the actual school year. NO, they’d rather spend extra $$$ on this during the summer, and spend extra $$$ to bus these kids for it. So, yeah, that makes a buttload of sense to do. Especially when their newly built high school ran $10 million over budget due to poor planning by the school board, and they want the City to fund half of the cost of a new swimming pool at the high school. City turned them down cold.

35. Todd says:

[6/28/2006 - 8:19 pm]

I think we are both reaching terrible conclusions. Your discussion of the district’s spending policies sounds very similar to practices in my district, so I can relate to that frustration.

This isn’t about winning and losing. When I see the phrase “their schools, some teachers, and the district as a whole fail these kids miserably on a daily basis,” there’s really no conclusion to jump to, just a reasonable assertion about what those words mean.

I try really hard not to read too far into someone else’s comments on a blog unless provoked. Surely you can see from this blog that I’m pretty open to new ideas. But your wording really doesn’t leave room for interpretation. Maybe if you re-read your previous comment, you’ll see what I mean. It’s pretty insulting to the public education system, albeit a system that could do with some insulting now and again.

I’ve already conceded your point, Sheri. Special education students should have to take some kind of altered CAHSEE since they are not given instruction in all of the state standards. Good point and one I hadn’t thought of before.

You’ve painted your view of the CAHSEE in such a vigorously “anti” light that it’s hard to imagine you see any good in it. If you say you’re in favor of it for mainstream kids, I stand corrected. Thanks.

So what do we do with a test that is good for one set of kids but isn’t good for another set of kids? Do we continue the amnesty special ed. has from this test forever? Or do we get busy designing a test that can have standards added and subtracted according to a student’s IEP? Is it possible to create a rigorous test that could withstand such “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” style creation? And, as I asked before, does the fact that the standards are different imply that the diplomas should be different if the diplomas are to mean anything?

Coincidentally, Sheri, I do thank you for keeping this discussion going. There are several points made back-and-forth in this one that need to be broken out into full entries. None of that would have happened without your contributions, along with the host of other folks who have rung in on this one.

36. Sheri says:

[7/8/2006 - 8:05 pm]

‘Their schools, some teachers, and the district as a whole fail these kids miserably on a daily basis’ is just that. School in grave disrepair, SOME teachers (obviously NOT all) don’t give 2 monkeys – and I can think of several teachers that either one of my kids have had over the years that clearly are in – and still are – the wrong line of work because of their obvious lack of patience and telling me that I’m the stubborn and hard headed one because I don’t want my kids at a certain school at the time because it was year round and I kept hearing the broken record of it going to traditional calendar. One such teacher gave me grief, to which I said ‘Fine, ok, let’s put my child there, have him go year round, constantly passing out from heat exhaustion, missing school because of it. Now what? Are you going to do his homework for him? Are you going to pay the related medical bills? I didn’t think so. So, I suggest you either put up or shutup.’ That teacher chose to shutup. Don’t presume to tell me how to parent my child or call into question my doing what is in his medically best interests, unless you intend on paying the medical bills, which is the basic gist of what I told that teacher, and will tell any other teacher my children get if they pull that on me again.

Granted, yes the public education system could use a good insulting now and then. For the most part, it is a good system. It’s the bad parts of it – especially where I live – that get the constant stream of insults from me. Because they deserve it more often than not. When they stop insulting my kids and I, especially when we are standing up for what is the right thing, and they stop treating me as though I was born last night simply because I don’t have one (sarcasm intended here) of their precious little degrees behind my name.

I am sure there is some good in the CAHSEE, I am only ‘anti’ CAHSEE as there is currently no alternative for Special Ed. And Mr. O’Connell refuses to devise any. I don’t think a permanent amnesty for Special Ed is the answer, Todd. I think your point that you make about adding/subtracting standards according to the student’s IEP is the first step in the right direction. And I couldn’t have said that one better myself, Todd. That is the very thing I was trying and still am trying to say all along. Diplomas would obviously be different. But, at least it is a diploma that a child EARNED based on the standards they learned, and were actually taught, and were tested on.

Mr. O’Connell and all of his following need to realize that Special Ed curricula is NOT Regular Ed curricula. Therefore, Special Ed in is no way, and can never be held accountable for learning standards they are never taught. That is not the fault of Special Ed, but yet they are being punished for it. It would be no skin off of my nose if either one of my kids were given a diploma and were exempted from the CAHSEE requirement. I feel that it does not devalue my diploma by giving my kids diplomas purely based on that they fulfilled every requirement (passing required courses and getting all required credits) that their district of attendance required of them. I have a friend whom is severely learning disabled, and deaf, and he was given a diploma when we graduated from high school 23 years ago. Does that mean that my diploma has lost its value? No, not at all. He worked for his diploma perhaps harder than some, if not most of our classmates did for theirs. And this was obviously long before the CAHSEE was even a thought.

Thank you for the kind words about the back and forth idea posting thing. Just saying what needs to be said, with all of the posts, what I have been trying all along to say, ends up being put into words the right way. Generally by you, Tood. Thanks for the help. I don’t always say what I want to say the right way because I can’t think of the right way to say it or the right words to use. But, I always know that the basic point is understood. Thanks again, Todd.

37. Anonymous says:

[8/10/2006 - 11:34 am]

it sucks

38. Aldo Salgado says:

[8/10/2006 - 11:37 am]

in san clemente high school the topic for the wirtten portion of the CAHSEE was to write about something you obsurved very closely and discrive it and i failed it.

39. Gustavo Rosso says:

[8/10/2006 - 11:45 am]

it was so hard on both parts of the CAHSEE the english and math. A teacher told me to try hard even though it wasnt going to help me cause i was a loser. i felt really bad when she said that it isn’t my fault that i got straight F’s on all of my classes. i told the principal but he said he couldn’t do anything without prof of what she said. if there is anyone out there that can help me sue my school holla at my at my

any help will be helpful thank you!

40. Rolando Mota says:

[8/10/2006 - 11:54 am]


41. Todd says:

[8/10/2006 - 1:06 pm]

Gustavo, the teacher sucks to tell you you’re a loser and that’s wrong, but that’s not the reason you failed the test. The fact that you’ve failed all of your classes says that you’re not getting the education your school says you need and that the CAHSEE assesses. That’s why you failed the test.

Comments 37-40 just go to show how badly we need something like the CAHSEE. Where are the arguments? Where is the proof? Getting straight Fs isn’t your fault!? 3 major spelling errors in a comment about how the CAHSEE is too hard? Foul language (and ALL CAPS) used to defend a point of view?

Please try to fully express your thoughts and then work to defend them. Just saying “it sucks” doesn’t prove anything and really only goes to support the idea that students leaving high school need to pass a rigorous test in order to earn a diploma. If you’re to a level where “it sucks” settles it for you and that passes as “proof” to explain your thinking, you shouldn’t get a diploma.

Do you just not like the fact that the CAHSEE holds you accountable for demonstrating that you’ve learned something during your 12 years of education? Do you really think it’s an unreasonable request that teenagers show proof of knowledge gained? Remember, the CAHSEE only tests through 10th grade standards.

If not the CAHSEE, then what? You and I both know that grades in a class don’t always mean something was learned.

42. Sheri says:

[8/10/2006 - 1:52 pm]

I agree with Todd. And comment #42 and #43 have nothing to do with this thread. Patty Gomez shows just how juvenile she is by posting that nonsense.

43. Todd says:

[8/10/2006 - 3:34 pm]

The original comments #42 & 43 have been deleted; they were essentially spam.

44. Sheri says:

[8/10/2006 - 6:56 pm]

So, Rolando, what you are telling me is that my 16 year old is stupid because she taking the CAHSEE because the State demands that she takes it? I am here to tell you that my 16 year old is in no way stupid. Granted, she was born with a learning disability, but that by no means is in any way to be taken as that she is stupid. The ones that are stupid are ones whom have access to what is taught on the CAHSEE, which my daughter does not have access to, as she is in Special Ed classes, which are modified. She had to give up most of her summer to take the CAHSEE prep classes, which was not fair to her nor to me because we had to give up 6 weeks of our summer for something that should be done during the normal 9 month school year. So, who is the stupid one there? It’s the school district because they are spending more money for this, especially in my district when the new high school ran $10 million OVER BUDGET and the school board is bellyaching about it. Don’t punish my kids like this for a school board’s screw up. Which is precisely what that amounted to.

45. Rosebud says:

[8/20/2006 - 5:50 pm]

Here’s a teacher’s perspective:
First, a bit of background. I have taught at an inner-city urban school (L.A.), and an upper-middle-class suburban school (San Diego). I have taught grades 9-12, college prep, Honors, AP, yearbook, SAT prep, English Language Development, and CAHSEE prep. I have a Master’s degree in Education, I am nationally Board Certified, and also teach an Education methods class at the local university.
I believe in teacher and student accountability. I believe in a fair and equitable education for all students. And I believe in teaching my students to be critical readers, writers, and thinkers.
There should be ways to hold students and teachers accountable, but I don’t think the CAHSEE is the best way to do it.
Fair and equitable does not necessarily mean the CAHSEE or “no child left behind,” as Bush defines it. While I think his intentions are good, the literal practicality of NCLB is flawed. To me, leaving no child behind means to treat each of my students as human beings, to personalize and differentiate my teaching for each student, and to facilitate their educational progress as best as I can. However, this seems not to be NCLB’s aims in practical terms.
Many students come from homes and neighborhoods with scarce resources; these families have neither the money nor the time to give their children educational experiences before sending them to kindergarten and beyond. In addition, since schools receive much of their funding from the property taxes of homes in the area, these same students often attend schools with the same paucity of resources. If all students, teachers, and schools are to be evaluated with the same assessment tool (such as the STAR and the CAHSEE), shouldn’t all the students, teachers, and schools have the same opportunities, monetary support, and educational ability level?
The CAHSEE and NCLB does not take into account that every student is different, with different needs, successes, and challenges. The government says, “give those children more support” but then does not give enough monetary support to create programs and hire professionals to help them. To require students who have been in this country less than a year, some who cannot read or write in their native language, to pass the CAHSEE in English to graduate is preposterous. To require students who have learning disabilities to pass the CAHSEE at the same level as a student with no disabilities is cruel. It is not fair or equitable. These students do not come to school with equal abilities or knowledge, yet they are required to test at an equal level.
And yes, some school districts are poorly run, and some school boards would rather fight than work for our students. But in the end, who suffers for the mistakes of the adults? The students.
As a reaction to these tests, what is happening in many classrooms and school districts is not education. Education is being thrown out the window in favor of mere test preparation, of packaged skill-and-drill programs, of clean and neat ways to “teach” students how to read and write. Soon we will have a nation of people who will know how to pass multiple-choice tests and on-demand essays, but will not know how to think creatively and critically.
And, as you may have seen in the students’ comments, tests reduce students to numbers. They take away all humanity, and many students are left feeling hurt, angry, and dumb. So, instead of showing the achievement of students, oftentimes the tests compound the students’ issues with school, and create blocks to the students’ receptivity to learn new material.
The state requires districts to give extra support for students who have not been successful on the CAHSEE; as such, I am the teacher of what is deemed as a CAHSEE prep course. I have organized the course as a reading, writing, thinking course instead of a test-prep workbook course. Many of the students in my class are limited English proficient and/or have learning disabilities. These students work very hard, they try to be patient, and they try to learn the material. However, many of these students just cannot process the information, or they cannot sit still for the test, or they don’t know the English language well enough for the test. I see that this test is leaving them behind despite their best efforts.

46. Todd says:

[8/20/2006 - 10:08 pm]

Rosebud, I am a teacher too and I agree with much of what you have to say. I’ve written about the argument you raise surrounding funding previously and variations mean standardized education isn’t possible. We have to acknowledge those differences, but also find a way to let students in poor areas have exposure to the same standards students in rich areas are exposed to. The CAHSEE is one way to do that because it forces teachers to at least address a certain set of state standards. It’s one way of making sure that a high school education from California means a bare minimum, no matter what school you graduated from.

I do not like ESEA (the real name for NCLB), nor do I like the idea of a single standardized test holding as much power as the CAHSEE does. But the idea to finally hold students ultimately accountable for their education is such a good idea that it would be criminal not to have it in some form.

“This test is leaving them behind despite their best efforts.” Reading through your appeal to emotion there, what you really mean to say is that those students can’t pass the CAHSEE and so they ostensibly have to stay in high school. No one is leaving anyone behind in that case, so please don’t try to turn that phrasing around. It doesn’t really support your argument when you deconstruct it.

I know many students who try really, really hard to pass their classes. I also know students who, no matter how hard they try, aren’t skilled enough to do so. I sleep just fine knowing that.

To keep them thinking that they can do anything if they try hard enough is simply deluding them. Sometimes they can’t. For those students of yours who the test leaves “behind despite their best efforts,” maybe they should be. Maybe they don’t know enough to earn a high school diploma. Maybe that’s why they failed the test. That doesn’t mean they are bad people and it doesn’t mean they are doomed. It just means their skills aren’t developed enough to move on. Is that such a horrible message to send?

47. Sheri says:

[8/24/2006 - 3:58 pm]

Kids in an English class less than a year is a moot point here. They know enough English to take the test. Dump them into a total English immersion class. They choose to play stupid as though they don’t In many of the countries that these kids come from, English is a mandatory subject. So, their not knowing the language doesn’t wash with me nor with most people. And their parents choose to not learn the language of this country because they want to not only be lazy, but they alse expect us as Americans to cater to them. Or they know the language, yet refuse to address any American in English. I have had both happen to me.

As I have stated before, Special Ed kids do not and never will have access to what is actually taught on the CAHSEE, because their curriculum is nodified from the mainstream. Mr. O’Connell still refuses to devise an alternate version of the CAHSEE. He will never have a heart or compassion. He only cares about his bottom line – that fat cushy paycheck at the expense of kids like mine. Well, once my kids finish their required ’13 years of seat time’ they will leave high school never to return. Really sad that that is what my kids are reduced to – nothing more than chair warmers. Mr. O’Connell needs to go back to school.

48. Sheri says:

[8/29/2006 - 6:29 pm]

About sending the wrong message, Todd. If you mean that to apply ONLY to Regular Ed kids, then, I have no problem with that. Simply because far more of them than Special Ed don’t put in the effort required to pass classes, earn required credits, and don’t give 2 monkeys about a test that won’t mean squat in the real world.

Now, if you want to apply that same statment to Special Ed kids, then I strongly disagree. Because the simple fact is that Special Ed kids have so many negatives working against them from day one out of the womb. Special Ed kids on a 504 plan are generally ones that are behavior problem kids. IEP kids are vastly different. Behavior can be controlled with medicine and such. Why send such a megative message to an IEP Special Ed kid like either one of mine, when they have enough negative in their lives to begin with? It just shoots down even further any self esteem, self respect, self worth, etc that they may have had right on down into the rain drain. ANd I for one will NOT tolerate such negative messages being sent to my kids.

And, my kids know that they can do anything they set their minds and hearts to. If they want to be brain surgeons, well, then that’s what they will be. Although, that is not something that interests either one of them. And they could care less about that line of work to begin with. My kids want to help other, but not in that fashios, because you have to have a brain before a surgeon can fix it. So, there you go.

49. Jason says:

[9/11/2006 - 3:55 pm]

Todd, Shut the hell up. These tests are the worst thing to ever happen to education. Stats show that over 47000 students were unable to graduate because of this gay ass test. Do your research. Why all of a sudden did the stupid government have to initiate the cahsee. before 2005, student’s were able to graduate on course work alone. Now they just made it twice as hard if not more, for us students to even consider graduating. Thanks a pant load, State board of education, you shure did us a favor.

50. Jason says:

[9/11/2006 - 4:00 pm]



If students really wanted to learn it, there should be a college course for it. It’s not like any of us average people will ever use it. Education is overrated. The CAHSEE is just another way for the state to make money. ITS ALL CORRUPTED.


51. Sheri says:

[9/11/2006 - 6:19 pm]

Gee, Jason, you should take your own words to heart there dude and do your reasearch. Todd happens to be a teacher and knows enough of what he is talking about to post valid opinions. Besides, this is HIS blog, NOT yours. Take your sorry little name calling elsehwere. I already was taken to task for it – given mine was directed right where it was/is supposed to be directed to – Mr. O’Connell, whom is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. As for students prior to 2005 being able to graduate on course work alone – nice try there. You can pass the course work, but that does NOT mean you earned all of the required credits. And vice versa – earning all required credits yet failed a semester of English.

You should also pay attention to your spelling and punctuation, Jason. Your post #49 makes it clear why the CAHSEE was devised. It is one thing for Special Ed kids to not be able to pass the CAHSEE – they have valid reasons. Students like yourself and ELL students do not have any valid reason whatsoever for failing, other than not taking your education seriously.

Education is overrated ONLY when it comes to churning out fools like Mr. O’Connell. That is where the REAL greed exists. I can’t think of one teacher EVER that got rich by teaching. Mr. O’Connell wants to further line his pockets off of the backs of kids like mine by keeping them in school as long as possible because of the CAHSEE alone.

As for the algebra comment, I agree with you on that one. I have always said that unless algebra, biology, etc, were going to have any real world/real life application to me, then I’d gladly take those courses. So, unless I am going to become some sort of scientist, engineer, architect or go into some related field, then those subjects have no real life meaning to me. Algebra has no real life application to a stay at home mom.

52. Todd says:

[9/11/2006 - 9:25 pm]

Considering the source, can the opinion of anyone who failed the CAHSEE be taken as an honest critique of the test?

If you don’t have a firm grasp on simple English and mathematical concepts, you shouldn’t graduate high school. That’s why the CAHSEE is needed. In part, it’s in place because we need a way to normalize all high school graduates in the state. The CAHSEE doesn’t make it twice as hard for you. If you can’t pass the CAHSEE, you probably aren’t going to pass English 3 or 4, nor Algebra 1. In normal circumstances, all of those courses are needed for a diploma. Greed? Corruption? Stupidity? Those are partial reasons, too.

Is the only information worth learning that which can directly apply to our daily life? Really? I teach vocabulary to my students, a total of about 100 words each year. Chances are, those 100 words won’t come up in daily conversation or reading. But you never know.

I use Algebra all the time and I’m just an English teacher. Ever do any cooking? Need to double or half the recipie? Do you balance your checkbook? Ever investigate interest rates for loans or bank accounts? Interested in investing in a retirement plan? Those are only a few of the examples of how you use Algebra every day.

Education is the primary way to advance. If you don’t see that now, come talk to me in 5 years.

53. Sheri says:

[9/11/2006 - 9:52 pm]

Good job, Todd!!! Also, Jason, as an additional FYI, the CAHSEE was/is not ‘all of a sudden.’ Mr. O’Connell was a State senator/legislator when he wrote the law in 1999 devising the CAHSEE. It was supposed to go into effect with the Class of 2004, which means the Class of 2004 would have been the first class required to pass it to get diplomas. The legal wrangling ensued, thus causing the CAHSEE to be postponed for 2 years. Which means that the Class of 2006 were now the first class required to pass the CAHSEE to get diplomas to graduate, in addition to meeting all other school district requirements.

So, how does that information, which you can find by doing your own research, make the CAHSEE ‘all of a sudden?’ It clearly was NOT a last minute thing, as you are trying to make us believe it to be.

54. Michelle says:

[12/6/2006 - 8:21 pm]

All these opinions are very interesting…yet I think that some students are very pressured because of this exam. I myself feel that way. I work hard during school to keep my grades up and study hard for tests. I might be a freshman and bearly experiencing high school,but I feel as if I will not be able to pass the exam because I get nervous when I am taking a test. I do agree with Todd not everybody should get the same degree as an AP student or other kind of advanced students but some students are up to their level and should recieve what they deserve.

55. Sheri says:

[12/28/2006 - 12:58 pm]

I’m sure you all know by now, that State Senate Bill 297 (or it’s 5 something; I can’t find it right now)was signed into law, which means that seniors in the Class of 2007 that has an IEP or 504 in place, AND are meeting ALL other graduation requirements minus the CAHSEE, are now eligible for receiving a DIPLOMA!!!! Yay!!! I know it only applies to the Class of 2007, but my 17 year old is directly impacted by this, because she has an IEP, and is fulfilling all other graduation requirements, short of passing the CAHSEE. I will continue to fight for Special Ed kids as long as some people continue to be elitist, ignorant, arrogant, and refuse to either devise an alternative CASHEE for Special Ed kids, or exempt them outright. We all know that Special Ed kids are NOT taught the standards that Regular Ed kids are taught. This has been and continues to be proven time and again. Special Ed kids work just as hard – if not harder than – most if not all of the Regular Ed kids, because learning is twice as hard for Special Ed than Regular Ed.

As for the ELL students – unless you are also a Special Ed student – you have no right to cry foul over the CAHSEE. Stop being whining, lazy people and learn English. You came to America for a better life. Having a better life includes learning the language, as well as addressing ALL Americans IN ENGLISH. Since I have to work hard to have a good life here – and I was born in America – then ALL immigrants must do the same. I am tired of having my taxes continue to skyrocket because immigrants – primarily ILLEGAL – break AAmerica’s laws without fear of reprisal. If I did the same in Mexico, I would be deported/extradited so fast, y’all’s heads would spin.

Ok, enough of my rant, hahaha.

56. Todd says:

[12/28/2006 - 9:43 pm]

Those students who are enrolled in an ELL class are now in exactly the same position the 504 and IEP kids of ’07 were in before SB 267: they are enrolled in classes where they are never exposed to the standards they are tested on. Did you consider that before your ethnocentric “rant”?

You demand an exemption for one set of kids and then call the other set of kids “whining, lazy people.” That’s not funny, Sheri, so I don’t know why you’re ‘laughing.’ You’ve written several things here that are offensive and inconsiderate. Stop and think before you post another comment here like that one.

And don’t forget that one of the provisions of that Senate Bill you’re so proud of is that students still have to repeatedly attempt the CAHSEE, attend tutoring, and attempt the CAHSEE at least once more after the tutoring is completed. It does nothing to address the problem you pointed out in the first place, that Special Ed students are tested on standards to which they have never been exposed due to their modified curriculum. Sounds like a hollow victory to me, for so many different reasons.

57. Sheri says:

[12/30/2006 - 12:10 am]

Todd, I said it because the majority of the ELL students I mention/refer to are ones that are in Regular Ed classes. And there are several of them that have been in this country long enough to KNOW the language, yet chose to address others outside of their physical homes in languages OTHER THAN ENGLISH. Last time I checked, Spanish/Russian/Thai/et al languages were/are not the main language of the US. So, how does that make what I said an “ethnocentric rant”? And I have heard enough of such students and/or their parents whining about this, as well as other things. I can NOT begin to point out how many different agencies provide translating services in the various languages, and I am tired of catering to such laziness. This isn’t being ‘ethnocentric’, Todd. It is the truth. Sorry that you seem to see it for something other than the truth. If that were the case, then I would despise myself AND my own kids, ok? ANd I would despise my newest sister in law. So, do NOT go there with me.

Ok, and I also believe I have mentioned to either DEVISE AN ALTERNATIVE for Special Ed kids OR exempt them altogether. YOu see it as ‘hollow’, because you are looking at it from the eyes of a teacher. Do you teach Special Ed kids? Do you have a relative/immediate family member that is disabled? If you teach Special Ed, I can shoot that one down in a heartbeat, Todd. I shot it down many times with a recent boyfriend, all because his mother taught Special Ed. Just because she taught Special Ed, does NOT mean she knows more about it that I as a parent of disabled kids knows. She got to leave at 5PM every day, whereas I deal with this 24/7, no break, no vacation, no paycheck at the end of the week, etc. So, since you know more than me, tell me I am stupid and I will tell you simply that one of us is wrong, and I can guarantee you it is NOT me.

58. Todd says:

[12/30/2006 - 12:38 am]

It’s an ethnocentric rant because you assume that all failure to acquire English is due to laziness. You further assume that any attempt to maintain the native tongue is more laziness, completely overlooking (or perhaps just not knowing) that literacy in the native tongue makes acquisition of another language easier. Lack of literacy in the native tongue makes acquisition of another language close to impossible.

You having a special ed child does not automatically make you right, neither does your sister-in-law argument. I call all of this hollow because this “victory” doesn’t address the problems you brought up. It pushes things under the rug for another year without getting to the core problem that special ed students are not exposed to the standards tested on the CAHSEE (and neither are ELL students). That was your initial complaint and yet you cheer when that initial complaint isn’t addressed at all.

I look at this as a teacher? I’ll take that as a compliment. Maybe you should try that perspective. You’re too emotionally attached when you look at it as a parent.

59. Sheri says:

[12/30/2006 - 12:32 pm]

Ok, Todd. You win, you’re right, I’m wrong and stupid. Because you’re a teacher, you clearly know more than me. Being emotionally attached because of being a parent of 2 Special Ed kids is now something of a sin. Look, my kids did NOT ask to be born disabled. Genetics decided that for them. Or hadn’t you as a teacher thought of that one? People who come to the US and refuse to address/learn/use the native tongue and expect legal citizens of the US to cater to them by providing translating services, providing free medical care, and providing public assistance to them without them having and fear of reprisal is what ticks off many legal citizens of this country, myself included. I am tired of seeing my taxes continue to skyrocket because of this.

It’s all about choices, Tood. Such individuals CHOOSE to not address me in English. I have had this happen to me more often than not, and I guess that’s my fault since I never learned Spanish/Russian/French/German etc. Last I checked, this is America, NOT any of the Spanish speaking countries, Russia, France, Germany, etc.

As for my ‘sister-in-law’ argument, any sister in law I might have mentioned in this blog is now and has been an EX sister in law for many years, and my brother has custody of the 2 disabled boys in quiestion. This same brother of mine is also disabled. So, I have been dealing with the disabled for perhaps far longer than you have been a teacher.

For this being a hollow victory, not even. I already know about Senate Bill 297 still requiring that Special Ed students in the Class of 2007 having to take remedial classes/tutoring, taking the exam, etc. Bottom line, and my point on this one is that they now are not required to pass the CAHSEE. It takes that stress off of them. These kids already feel like failures as it is because of being disabled. Why continue to insult them by demanding they pass an exam that was NEVER designed for them from the get go? It is a bit late in the game to be providing tutoring and such, but better late than never. And, these students according to Senate Bill 297 are only required to take the CAHSEE one time as seniors. MY oldest has already fulfilled ALL of the requirements of Senate Bill 297, as well as all District requirements. So, she will be getting her diploma in June, 2007. And, yes, Tood, she is a senior.

In the school district where I live, bills such as 297, force the school board to address the CAHSEE issue mor ein depth than perhaps they would have done. While part of it doesn’t help my daughter, it will help my son, because they (school board) find out what students might potentially not pass the CAHSEE on the first try, address that by getting the help to such students while they are still in middle school/junior high. This will help my son, as he is only in 4th grade currently.

So, what I have had to fight hard to get for my daughter – and the state has had plenty of time to devise an alternative/exempt her completely, and school board has more than enough time as well to help her and kids like her – is now in place for kids like my son. Mr. O’Connell will have to do one of 2 things to avoid continuing litigation on this: either devise an alternative for Special Ed kids, OR exempt them outright. Is it going to hurt you or your teaching degrees if any Special Ed kid gets their diploma without being required to pass the CAHSEE? No, it won’t. That I can guarantee you. It will harm them MORe psychologially, mentally, emotionally if they are continued to be required to pass the CAHSEE.

I should try looking at this from a teacher’s perspective? Ok, look, I might not have any degrees behind my name, but I teach my kids every day, things above and beyond what their schools do/don’t teach them. If I wasn’t emotionally involved, then that would mean I don’t give a damn about my kids. And because I am emotionally involved, that means I am the best damn parent my kids have, than some teachers I know. That whole thing tells me that you are emotionally devoid when it comes to teaching.

And where in ANY of my previous posts, do I even mention any of my in-laws? Outside of this post, nowhere. So, yeah, go figure.

60. Todd says:

[12/30/2006 - 3:41 pm]

Read comment #57, end of first paragraph. Do you not read what you write? Try going back to re-read what you’ve written and how I’ve responded.

I will let what I write on this blog speak to whether or not I’m “emotionally devoid when it comes to teaching.”

Thank you again, Sheri, for engaging in this, but it’s a dead issue now. We vehemently disagree with each other on many issues, cannot see eye to eye on others, and agree on still others. No surprise because that’s what happens when you have passion about something.

If anything new happens, I look forward to your post here and I’ll try to sum this all up in a new post when it seems appropriate.

61. Sheri says:

[12/30/2006 - 6:32 pm]

Todd, the sister in law I refer to in my post #57, came here LEGALLY, and made efforts LONG BEFORE she even got her Visa to learn the native tongue of the US. She has addressed me in Enligh and I have addressed her in English. It is the scant few LEGAL immigrants that don’t play by the rules, while the vast majority are here ILLEGALY.

My sister in law also is not diabled in any way, shape, or form, and she has no kids of her own. For ones like her, I am glad to see all efforts made on their part to do what is needed to survive in a country that is not their home country.

62. Nicole says:

[2/6/2007 - 1:01 pm]

I’m hoping I don’t get too much negative feedback. I wanted to add my two cents to this debate.
At my high school in Sacramento there are many kids who can’t pass the CASHEE, especially those in Special Ed. I empathize with you, Sheri, because my younger brother is one of those students. He has tried repeatedly to pass the test and has been unsuccessful. Despite my emotional involvement in this topic, I support the decision of the state to deny a diploma to those students who do not pass the exit exam. The point was made earlier that this keeps a diploma from becoming a meaningless piece of paper. Perhaps Special Education students, because of their modified curriculum, should be awarded a modified diploma for passing a modified CASHEE.
There are also many students in mainstream education, including many of my close friends, who have not passed. They have, in my opinion, little excuse for their failure. They make up excuses (similar to many of the above) to shift the blame from themselves. Barring extenuating circumstances, they marred their chances at recieving a diploma, and the fault is their’s. I will vouch for the fact that Algebra can be difficult and that mastery of the English language takes practice. I will not defend people who waste 12 years of free education and expect to enter the world with the same opportunities as those who worked hard.
Despite the common instances of underfunded and sub-par education in many areas of the United States, we still have much better programs than other areas of the world. If a student is unable to pass the CAHSEE he/she should first determine if he/she used the opportunities available. The root of the problem with the CASHEE is not the test or those who developed it. It’s students who expect an easy ride through life.

Nicole Mendoza
Class of 2007

63. Sheri says:

[3/14/2007 - 3:24 pm]

I agree with you, Nicole. Only problem is that there is not a modified CAHSEE at present, and the CDE (CA Dept. Of Education/Jack O’Connell) refuse to devise one. I have e-mails from Mr. O’Connell to support this statement. So, receiving a modified diploma for passing a modified CASHEE is not available. If a modified CAHSEE were available, then it helps to level the playing field as it were for Special Ed students.

Now, for those who make excuses and waste 12 years of free education, and still don’t pass the CAHSEE, then no they should not be given a diploma. Because in those cases, the diploma does become a meaningless piece of paper.

The CAHSEE as it stands administered to Regular Ed students is just fine, IMHO. Unfortunately, as I have said many times before, Mr. O’Connell either did not take into account the fact the curriculum for Special Ed is modified, or knows it is modified and just doesn’t care. Either way, he refuses to devise an alternative/modified CAHSEE for Special Ed students.

ELL students should not be given a free ride. It would be one thing if they had entered school at the beginning of the 2nd semester of their senior year in school to expect them to have enough command of the English language. Quite another if they have been here for years and want to be ignorant. Other Regular Ed students – as you mention – have no one to blame but themselves for failing the CAHSEE, because then their 12 years of education have been a complete waste of time and taxpayer dollars. You have my vote on that also.

It’s always good to have different opinions on things. Makes for rather interesting dialogue.

64. Student says:

[3/27/2007 - 12:07 pm]

First of all i think that the CAHSEE is boring but is easy. If high school students can’t pass an 8th grade level test they shouldn’t be allowed to graduate. =}

65. Student says:

[3/27/2007 - 12:22 pm]

oh and don’t give me too much negative feedback plz just expressing myself

66. Laura says:

[4/5/2007 - 6:52 pm]

I think this boils down to what one thinks a high school diploma should certify – Cognitive skills, noncognitive skills, or both. A GED certifies that someone has the academic skills of a high school graduate but it cannot certify noncognitive skills such as reliability, persistence, etc. because only a minimal amount of these traits are required to sit for a test.

A certificate of completion signifies noncognitive skills such as attendance, persistence, the ability to work under supervision, etc. but it does not certify that the person can do much academically.

Personally, I think a regular high school diploma should require both the above cognitive and noncognitive skills. I do think there should also be something to certify that someone has one but not the other. Just my two cents.

67. Laura says:

[4/5/2007 - 7:01 pm]

Also, if the special ed curriculum is not aligned with the exit exam, then temporarily waiving it might be a decent short term solution. In the long term, however, I think curriculum alignment should occur and students unable to pass should be given something(cert of completion, modified diploma, etc.) to certify noncognitive skills but not academic skills.

68. Willa says:

[4/25/2007 - 9:10 am]

Found this link in a search of CAHSEE related info. Very interesting comments. Just wanted to put in my two cents with relation to the special ed perspective. My son is 17 and in 10th grade, he has been in special day class since age 9. I was very concerned about the CAHSEE when he took it in Feb. He does not do well in tests, always scoring way low in the Star testing each year. I had prepared myself for him in no way to pass it until maybe his senior year. The thought of him not being able to graduate despite passing all his classes and having the credits needed because of this test was unbearable.

Yesterday we got his results and much to our joy and pride he passed the math component and only missed the English by 17 points!! We are all so proud of him and the effort he has made.

I agree that most of a special ed student’s progress is marked by the level of dedication given by their teachers. I cannot express how lucky and grateful we are to his teachers. They have always believed in him even when I was not so sure… that says a lot. I also believe the most credit goes to his 7th and 8th home room teacher. She set him on the path to success and almost overnight the changes became evident. There are indeed some wonderful teachers out there!

Thanks, just one Mom’s brag.

69. Laura says:

[5/13/2007 - 2:05 pm]

One thing I take issue with is this though:

“if we could use the CAHSEE to replace silly, meaningless exams, like the battery of tests that fall under the STAR designation, and encourage colleges to consider CAHSEE scores when weeding through applicants, we’d have a test that students would really care about doing well on.”

Why should colleges care about how students do on an 8th grade level test, or even on STAR tests? Those tests are too easy to provide useful admissions information to colleges. Colleges already have SATs, ACTs, SAT IIs, AP, IB, and early assessment tests that they can look at. Besides, what about private school/out of state students who aren’t taking them?

CAHSEE is okay for the non college bound, but students shouldn’t be given the impression that a high CAHSEE score says anything about their college preparation. Plenty of first-time passers who were admitted to 4 year universities assessed into courses covering grammar and fractions.

70. Laura says:

[5/13/2007 - 2:06 pm]

Though admittedly, said students did have low SAT scores, despite their high CAHSEE scores…

71. Laura says:

[5/13/2007 - 2:08 pm]

And yes, I do think that all students, whether college bound or not, should work to meet a minimum standard.

72. Todd says:

[5/13/2007 - 4:00 pm]

If these tests (CAHSEE and STAR) aren’t telling anyone anything about how well or poorly the student is prepared for the next academic level, exactly what are those tests telling us? If colleges aren’t using STAR or CAHSEE scores and employers aren’t using them either, why do we administer them? If it’s a judge of the school, let’s call a spade a spade and be honest about what the STAR and CAHSEE are trying to assess. Then let’s examine whether or not that is a valid way to assess a school’s performance.

Just so we’re clear, there are only something like 2 or 3 8th grade standards measured on the CAHSEE. The rest are 9/10 standards.

73. Laura says:

[5/15/2007 - 12:03 pm]

This is what I found

“Having high school students take college placement exams may appear unnecessary since more and more states are developing high school exit exams. But in many states the high school exit exams were developed to assess minimum competence. So every year many students pass a high school exit exam, but then do poorly on a college placement exam and end up in remedial courses. According to a recent study that compared 66 state high school exams (35 in English and 31 in mathematics) to a set of standards for university success found that just three of them (all in English) could offer useful information about students� preparation for college (Conley, 2003).”

HS graduation standards have always been lower than college readiness standards. I thought CAHSEE was more a measure of workforce reasiness than college readiness. For example, students who don’t take algebra 2 can graduate from high school but are unprepared for a degree applicable math course.

74. Laura says:

[5/15/2007 - 12:06 pm]

Though, one thing – If high schools want to know how well students are prepared for college, why not give a schoolwide ACT administration(more focused on content knowledge than SATs) and give SAT IIs instead of STAR tests at the end of non-AP courses?

75. fred says:

[8/15/2007 - 4:01 pm]

Ok, I read a lot of the thread about the Cahsee. The school I work at has a Chasee class that teaches both parts of the test. I teach the math portion to special ed students. So special students aren’t being signaled out, they are getting instruction. The math portion is basically 6th-8th grade math. So if you have taken Algebra, you can pass this test with one eye closed. You only need to pass 1/2 of it to pass. When we teach the Cahsee to special ed students, we do not teach all the math. We only teach the basic portions of the math, because they only need to get around 44 (est) correct to pass. So my point is, that if a child is in special ed, they can pass the Cahsee, it happens all the time. As long as your child knows how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. All the things they learned in elementary school, they can pass. It is really not that difficult. If your child has a severe learning disability, then that would be a problem. The basic standard addressed on the math portion is 7th grade. It a lot of hoopla about nothing.

76. Vintage high student says:

[9/6/2007 - 2:59 pm]

Can’t we get rid of all the testing except for SAT ACT tests? What are the states trying to prove? All they want is for us to succeed i doubt it. so people can’t pass tests people have problems with test taking. What I think is people should take the test once and only once. The students get what they get. No student should have to take a test just to Graduate, its hard enough to do a Senoir project and still expect to pass the CAHSEE.

77. john says:

[9/11/2007 - 10:24 am]

I believe that this article was right on track. I believe that if we are to recieve a deploma that we need to earn it. Although that dosnt nessisarily mean that the Cashee is the right way, atleast for every one. I also agree with the fact that the cashee is given to the students to take from the 10 to 12 grade years. It is the proper amount of time to pass it. When I took the Cashee, it was a supprize. I found out I was takeing it the day before. When i tok it I passed it on the first attempt.
thank you.

78. Sheri says:

[9/12/2007 - 10:22 am]

Ok, Fred. Well, that’s all nice and fine. But in my school district, Special Ed students are NOT placed into Special Ed CAHSEE prep classes separate from Regular Ed CAHSEE prep classes. Special Ed students are dumped right into the Regular Ed CAHSEE prep classes and expected to pass a test that is NOT meant for Special Ed to pass, period. End of story.

As for Special Ed students passing the CAHSEE as is happening all the time, I highly doubt it. have you seen the latest available numbers? I have – 70-75% FAILURE rates among Special Ed students taking the existing CAHSEE.

Doesn’t anyone get it that the exisitng/current CAHSEE is illegal and discriminates? It is illegal and it does discriminate against Special Ed students every time it is taken. Mr. O’Connell refuses to devise an alternative CAHSEE specifically based on the standards that Special Ed students are taught. Because the standards that Special Ed students are taught are MODIFIED from the standards that Regular Ed students are taught, because the Special Ed curriculum is modified from the Regular Ed curriculum. IF you are/were a teacher, you of all people would know this point rather well.

Bottom line is, that until Mr. O’Connell changes his ways, he will continue to be sued by advocates/lawyers on behalf of the disabled. I may not be a teacher, but I have done my research and I have more than enough educators in my district and elsewhere that agree with me for me to know I am right. I mean, come on, think about it. The STAR tests have the CAPA alternative that is given to Special Ed students. Since the CAPA alternative to the STAR is good enough, then why not a Special Ed CAHSEE alternative? It’s not going to hurt anyone.

I know all of this and then some because both of my kids have been/currently are in Special Ed classes. I know about the CAPA tests, because my 10 year old son takes them. He does amazingly well on the CAPA for 2 reasons – he has an awesome mother (me) AND he has an awesome teacher who by the way made Teacher of the Year for her school site during the 2006-2007 school year. And she fully supports me in what I have been doing in waking people up and getting people to pay far better attention to what is going on and how to get what their child needs and be better advocates for their children.

Can you imagine what would happen if more advocates/disability lawyers were to sue en masse Mr. O’Connell, the CDE, and CA State Board of Education? The CAHSEE is Mr. O’Connell’s “baby.” He will continue to be sued until he changes. And I for one am glad that he will continue to be sued until he gives up and devises a Special Ed CAHSEE alternative based solely on the standards that Special Ed students are taught.

So, care to tell me that I am wrong? I don’t think so.

79. Laura says:

[9/19/2007 - 7:11 am]

I believe the cumulative pass rate(by senior year, class of ’07) was closer to 50%, no 25%. Fairly high for students spending most of their time in regular ed, are autistic, or only have physical disabilites. Very very low(under 5%) for students diagnosed with conditions such as mental retardation. I guess the point is, what are they being prepared for? My cousin has gained absolutely nothing in the long term by being given a diploma with only 3rd grade level skills. If they’re not being prepared for a basic-skills test, people should be complaining about the instruction they’re receiving, not the test.

80. Laura says:

[9/19/2007 - 7:12 am]

(pass rate for diploma-track special ed students that is)

81. Laura says:

[9/19/2007 - 10:01 pm]

That said, I think the ultimate discrimination is to say that any student, regardless of disability, can’t learn new skills(whatever level those skills are). When that happens the buiding ceases to be a school and becomes a warehouse.

82. Lisa says:

[10/1/2007 - 8:10 pm]

Look, I took the CAHSEE years ago. Anyone that pays attention half the time in class will pass. It’s easy. It tests basic skills that anyone graduating high school should have. Also, I am a Latina, and Jenny is just pulling the race card. The CAHSEE is not racist and should remain a requirement to graduate.

83. Victoria Meister says:

[10/2/2007 - 10:41 am]

I can understand your feelings about the requirements for students who are lucky enough that they do not have a learning disability but for thoses students that do, for most, they are neurologically wired different than most and especially for those who have dysgraphia will not ever possess the ability to write an essay without assistance. You can’t take away a man’s wheelchair if he has no legs, just like you can’t take away a learning disabled students computer. They need it to survive. You can’t expect the man without a leg to grow a new one, or learn to walk with only one, not without assistance. It is no different for these children. Shame on you, Shame on the lawyers who don’t help these students. SHAME, SHAME, SHAME.

84. Todd says:

[10/2/2007 - 12:23 pm]

If you look through the comments, Victoria, I’ve already conceded that SpEd students need a modified test.

Shame on you for not reading thoroughly before you write such a condemnation.

85. Kristi says:

[10/11/2007 - 5:01 pm]

I was wondering if someone could help me. I am doing an “Arguing one side” paper for my college english class and I chose to do the CAHSEE. I’m going to argue that special ed or ELL students shouldn’t have to pass. I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of some sites with statistical data that is correct concerning the pass/fail rate. I read most of this thread, but I will admit that my eyes started to cross because of it’s length! Just for the record I have a regual ed daughter that’s a senior who passed both sections on her first try with scores over 400 in each and a son that’s a sophomore with a 504 (ADD and dysgraphia) who will be taking this school year. I also work as an instructional aide in resource classrooms at a high school. I do believe that there needs to be an alternative test for special ed/ELL kids. I have worked in a CAHSEE math class for two years and have met some second language kids that have just come to this country and don’t have the skills to pass the test. I’ve also seen special ed seniors who have been placed in the CAHSEE math class with only having taken basic math. Does anyone know if there is an alternative in the works?

86. Sheri says:

[10/12/2007 - 8:20 pm]

No, Kristi. There is no CAHSEE alternative in the works. Mr. O’Connell refuses to devise one, despite the fact that if people paid attention and researched it, they would see that what I have been saying for some time now that Mr. O’Connell is breaking federal law on this. Since the STAR and other such tests have Sp Ed alternative assessments (STAR has CAPA), then there should be a Sp Ed CAHSEE alternative assessment. Sp Ed kids can’t be tested on standards that they are NOT taught. Period, end of discussion. And the current CAHSEE tests standards that ONLY Reg Ed students are taught.

As for ELL students – if they are in Reg Ed and have been in our educational system for less than one year, then that’s cone thing. But, if the same ELL Reg Ed student has been in our educational system for 2 or more years, then they have NO EXCUSE for not knowing English or any of the other standards that are taught on the CAHSEE. They are simply too lazy to bother and expect to be catered to. They learn this habit at home from their parents. Come to America for a free ride. Go on our Welfare rolls, have a baby at any of our hospitals and you won’t have to pay the related bills for the child. That’s why our medical bills for legal citizens are so astronomically high and bankrupt many families.

87. Laura says:

[10/14/2007 - 6:45 pm]

I think the main disagreement here pertains to whether special ed instruction should be modified to fit the CAHSEE or the CAHSEE should be modified to fit special ed instruction. I think we all agree that the present system of not instructing sped students at an 8th-10th grade regular ed level and then expecting them to pass a test covering 8th-10th grade standards is unfair.

88. Sheri says:

[10/15/2007 - 1:09 pm]

Precisely, Laura. Can’t expect/demand that Spec Ed students pass a test that is based on standards that they are not taught. If they are to be taught the standards the CASHEE is based on, then all Spec Ed classes would have to be totally eliminated. So, a CAHSEE based on the standards Spec Ed students are actually taught is what is needed. Until that happens, the CDE, State Board of Education AND Mr. O’Connell will continue to be sued.

89. Laura says:

[10/28/2007 - 10:32 am]

While I think those in special ed who’ve passed the CAHSEE would disagree with “If they are to be taught the standards the CASHEE is based on, then all Spec Ed classes would have to be totally eliminated”, I otherwise understand your statement.

Still, the question goes back to “What should a diploma signify?” and /or “Should everyone who tries get a diploma?” Should a diploma signify that someone was a good kid who attended school for 12 years? Should it signify that a student is academically qualified to join the military, start a career in the manufacturing/transportation sectors, become a nursing assistant/personal care attendant, or enter postsecondary vocational training? Special ed students are free to pursue college degrees and some do earn college degrees, but they have to, with reasonable accomodations such as tutoring or extra time, meet the same requirements as everyone else. What would the value of a college degree be, however, if some students could take different classes that were not based on college level standards and still receive a college degree?

Whether ESL teens can pass the CAHSEE also depends heavily on how much education they received in their native country. I don’t think they should graduate until they have met grade level regular ed standards(in english) either.

90. Laura says:

[10/28/2007 - 11:12 am]

Just to clarify, by (in english) I meant they should have to meet the standards using material written in English since English is the primary US language, not that they should only have to meet the English standards.

91. Laura says:

[10/28/2007 - 11:27 am]


“By discriminating against the disabled like the CAHSEE does, then, they (the disabled)will drop out of school get pregnant, go ont Welfare, be institutionalized, and the like.”

Um no, dropping out of high school does not cause pregnancy or institutionalization. About a fifth of Californian adults do not have a high school diploma or GED and the vast majority of them are not in institutions or on welfare. Being a dropout is nothing to aspire to, but it is not the end of the world. Pregnancy is harder to tease out since you have to tease out whether the pregnancy caused the student to drop out or the other way around.

Poor work habits cause both the above and dropping out of high school. Dropping out of high school does not directly cause the above. That said, it’s nothing to aspire to, just as reaqding below an 8th grade level is nothing to aspire to.

92. Laura says:

[10/28/2007 - 11:37 am]

caught my typo – reading not reaqding

Anyway, to the point – if hs diplomas were what could prevent the social problems dropouts have more of, we could solve all sorts of social ills by including a high school diploma with every baby’s birth certificate. But then the diploma would have no more educational meaning than the birth certificate. It is not the diploma that matters. It is the education.

93. Sheri says:

[10/28/2007 - 6:41 pm]

I never said that dropping out of school causes pregnancies, etc. But, there are kids who DO drop out because the girl got knocked up AND she will end up on Welfare to help support the kid/s because the father runs the other direction. And I also never said that getting pregnant before marriage, dropping out of high school, etc are anything to aspire to. But, also do NOT twist my words around and make it like I am implying that and/or that I am implying that being disabled is something to aspire to either.

Sp Ed students are more easily upset and frustrated when it comes to tests, period. In their mind, dropping out might look more attractive than having to contend with the CAHSEE. Having a less than eighth grade whatever also is nothing to aspire to, but that’s applied to Reg Ed students ONLY whom don’t want to apply themselves. Sp Ed kids are in a league all of their own. If having an eighth grade level education for a Sp Ed kid is their best, then that’s their best. Cut Sp Ed some more slack. The vast majority of Sp Ed kids have better work habits than the majority of Reg Ed kids.

And if teachers weren’t forced to teach to the test, and were allowed to be more creative in putting together their lesson plans and such, just imagine what sort of amazingly creative minds and hearts would live in children – Reg Ed AND Sp Ed.

94. Laura says:

[10/31/2007 - 8:50 pm]

Teaching to the test isn’t the best, but it’s preferable to perfectly capable students being passed along despite their fuctional illiteracy. I developed more creativity in getting around the rules than from the actual classes(in high school and college). Honestly I have difficulty imagining how a regular ed 8th grade teacher can handle a class of students whose skills range from 4th-12th grade level, plus half the class being socioeconomically disadvantaged and a quarter of the class speaking English as a second language(this would be a statistically average California classroom). It would be hard not to leave the high and low achievers out.

As for spec ed, I’ve already agreed that they should be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies, receive accomodations (and maybe also modifications such as calculators/spellcheck), and be allowed to receive certificates of completion. And I want to clarify, I do not think that spec ed students have poor work habits. Poor work habits are one but by no means the only reason people drop out.

I guess it’s a matter of semantics – do you call it a special ed diploma or a certificate of completion or a certificate of achievement? All certify good work habits, which is at least half of what employers look for in the first couple years after graduation, until their work history(do they bounce between jobs with periods of unemployment in between, etc) gives a more reliable picture. None signal the same level of readiness for adulthood as a regular diploma. As long as it’s clear to both students and employers what requirements the student did and didn’t meet, I don’t care what it’s called.

95. Helen says:

[11/6/2007 - 1:25 pm]

Please don’t limit my child with low expectations! She’s special ed. but attends all regular ed. classes. Why, you may ask…that’s because we can’t afford the harmful effects of special education (low expectations, NOT teaching her what she needs to succeed in life after K-12). Also, although she earns (she receives accommodations NOT modifications) straight A’s, I still see the holes in her learning that directly relate to her disability. The problem lies in getting the rest of the IEP team to appropriately address her needs in the “least restrictive environment.”
Sheri’s right, it’s NOT fair to expect those students who have NOT received proper instruction in the general ed curriculum (CA State Standards) to pass the CAHSEE to receive a diploma. Parents are told their kids are doing fine when they are NOT & then who do you supposed gets blamed later on when these students can’t pass the exit exam? Besides having a child who qualifies for services I’m also an advocate. Parents call me when they realize their kids are not progressing & they can’t get district personell to even admit there’s a problem. If it’s not working, why don’t we try something different?
Todd, you’re wrong about the CAHSEE if you think it will give any indication whether or not a student’s learned what they should have. How many important documents have you ever written, spur of the moment, while you’re only provided with paper, a pencil & an eraser?
Next question, if parts of the CAHSEE (Math) tests standards from 6th, 7th & 8th grade, why do you suppose the school district don’t have their students do a readiness test when the exit 8th grade so they can then guide future instruction? I believe it’s because they aren’t really interested in knowing this and something like that could highlight how poorly they are educating students.
Ask any business people you know how well prepared they believe our high school students, who enter the work force upon graduation, are. Next, take a look at those that wish to continue their education. The CA Dept. of Ed DataQuest web site list info by school district regarding the number of students who graduate with the courses they need to enter a 4 year program. CAL Stat & UC sites will tell you how many of those studens (49%) REQUIRE remediation in Math, English or both. The CCs do not provide that info but I feel safe guessing that number is significantly higher. Now think about the cost of those do-over courses (textbooks, supplies, lost time) to taxpayers, parents & students. None of those remidial courses count towards a degree. If this indicates how well CA’s public education system is serving our “best” students, how well would you say that same system is serving the rest of our students?
It’s NOT just a more money issue, the system needs MAJOR reform.

96. william garcia says:

[11/6/2007 - 2:29 pm]

the cahsee is so dumb, i cant belive their making student like myself take this test, in other words they have a test to to detrimine weather we graduate or not

97. Laura says:

[11/12/2007 - 2:07 pm]

Precisely, Helen. The whole purpose of requiring students to pass the CAHSEE is to keep all students and parents, whether regular ed or special ed, from being told that their kids are doing fine when they’re not. This applies especially to special ed students because special ed teachers often consider them to be incapable of learning, but still get $30,000+/special ed student/year in some special ed classes to teach them absoutely nothing – and then sue to prevent parents from getting better services (that, unlike sped classes, actually have been demonstrated through peer-reviewed research to improve student skills) at an equivalent cost elsewhere. I don’t begrudge the funding level, but rather that such classes are often merely warehouses to hold disabled children until they “graduate” on to a social security check or being institutionalized, all while telling the parents that Johnny’s doing great and has all A’s in his sped classes.

I agree that they should test younger students to see whether they’re making adequate progress in gaining the skills they’ll need to pass the CAHSEE. Ultimately the solution is to improve the instruction, not to dump the exam. The exam’s function is to force schools to provide at least a minimum quality of instruction, to force students to be accountable for a minimum amount of knowledge, and to establish a floor for the academic skills of all high school graduates.

98. Sheri says:

[12/14/2007 - 8:08 pm]

It’s rather hard to ensure that Sp Ed students are held accountable for standards and curricula that is not taught to them. Sp Ed standards and curricula are MODIFIED from Reg Ed standards and curricula. Only way one can ensure that Sp Ed are taught the same is to completely do away with Sp Ed altogether, and that’s not going to happen because of the ADA, and I do not mean Average Daily Attendance.

As for ‘graduating’ Sp Ed on to a Social Security check, um, where did you get that idea? Just wondering, since most Sp Ed kids that I know 0 mine included – were born disabled, and went through rigorous application process and such with SSA to ensure a legitimate disability. And they were applied for and started receiving SSI long BEFORE high school graduation. My eldest started getting her SSI when she was 7 years old, and she is now 18 and a high school grad. Her only sibling is now 10 years old and he started receiving his SSI back in late 2001/early 2002, and he is currently only in 5th grade. So, the ‘graduating them on to a Social Security check’ obviously doesn’t apply to either of my kids, just like it doesn’t apply to the majority of Sp Ed kids that do get SSI.

Just thought you’d like the clarification.

99. Laura says:

[12/29/2007 - 1:13 am]

Sheri, my point was that in order to receive SSI as an adult, someone has to be considered disabled enough to be unable to hold any full time job. Regardless of disability, one cannot simultaneously make much money and receive SSI on one’s own behalf. Some who are eligible for SSI do work, and they should be commended. Some who are eligible for SSI want to work, and they should receive job training and assistance. Still, of what value is a high school diploma to someone who is functionally illiterate and unable to hold any full time job with or without accomodation, even if both are due to disability?

Students who do not fulfill the coursework requirements(such as algebra 1 or english) do not receive a standard diploma, though they may receive a certificate of completion. IDEA (I think that was what you were referring to when you mentioned ADA) requires schools to provide a free and appropriate education for all students in the least restrictive appropriate environment; nowhere does it state that special ed students do not need to fulfill graduation requirements to receive a diploma, and nowhere does it state that such students must be granted an alternative diploma. Most moderately to profoundly retarded students receive certificates of completion rather than diplomas because they CANNOT fulfill the requirements for a regular diploma. Why should other disabled students who do not meet all graduation requirements be treated any differently?

If someone cannot pass the CAHSEE with accomodations/modifications, they likely did not learn the state standards that the state requires that high school graduates learn. Fulfilling IEP goals alone without meeting state graduation standards is not enough for a diploma. You stated that the special ed classes did not cover the material that the minimum-level 8th to 10th grade regular ed classes do. If that is true, then they should be classified as non-diploma track special ed classes, not as diploma track special ed classes since they are not addressing state graduation standards.

100. Suzette says:

[1/2/2008 - 2:20 pm]

Hi, guys i just found this site and i have to say i have learn’t a lot. i am a home-school student in Califorina, i am 17 and i gad. this summer. i just have a few questions for all you guys!

1. i have an IEP and am sposed[sp?] to be able to have some wavers for the CAHSEE, i have talked to my prinsible about it and do you know what he did??? he put me in the library to take the test!!!! now i have realy bad problems with math and can’t get anyone to do anythig about it, what should i do???

2. who’s stuped idea was it in the first place???? i mean i get that we need a better ed but come on you don’t have to go that far!!!! this test is redicules!!! [sp?]

i would be very gratful if anyone could help me!!

101. ivette says:

[2/3/2008 - 4:07 pm]

i dont understand what the problem is against the CAHSEE! its at a 8th/10th grade level its not that hard! work for your diploma! High School is supposed to prepare you for college and if you cant pass the CAHSEE your going to have a hard time in college!

102. Sheri says:

[2/5/2008 - 1:07 am]

Ivette…college is not the only thing high school is ‘supposed’ to prepare you for. Read my prior posts about the CAHSEe and Special Ed. Kids in Sp Ed work very hard in school. Now, if you’re talking about Reg Ed kids, then yes, they should work for their diplomas. Sp Ed should have a Sp Ed CAHSEE alternative…much like how the STAR tests have the CAPA for Sp Ed. Because there is NO CAHSEE Sp Ed alternative assessment, Mr. O Connell has chosen to discriminate against the disabled, and he knows this.

Next issue…

103. Sheri says:

[2/5/2008 - 1:12 pm]

Also, I forgot to mention, that not everyone want to go on to college/university post high school. Many go on to work or the military after high school, thereby avoiding college/university altogether.

104. KATIE says:

[2/12/2008 - 7:23 pm]

HEY Guys,

I found this site a couple weeks ago I just recentaly took the math section of the CAHSEE a week ago. I’m parying I finally passed because if I didn’t I can’t graduate!! I believe the CAHSEE has a good intension, but on the other hand it’s totaly unfair. If your a senior in high school you’ve done all your required classes and credits with a reasonable GPA that should be ebough to graduate right?? No we have to take another state test just to earn a diploma its ridiculas exspecially if you have worked hard the past 12 years of school and passed every other test!! I understand its suppose to see if kids can read and write and do certain math skills put if you passed one section and not the other its game over pretty sad huh??

105. Cristy says:

[2/18/2008 - 3:33 pm]

Well I’m a 10th grader and apparently in March of this year I will be taking the CAHSEE for the first time. Honestly to tell you guys the truth I’m afraid and I have my reasons for it. One of the reasons is because many people tells me that the CASHEE is easy others tell me is hard so that gives me pressure and I get scared because of that. Also because I’m a really smart girl but when it comes to taking a test doesn’t matter about what subject I do poorly very poorly and I never understood why. I mean I get straight A’s sometimes B’s, I understand the work the teachers gives me, I do all my homework although I have after school choir you see I try my best when it comes to school work and stuff but when it comes to testing I totally suck. And if I do poorly on tests what makes me thing I’m going to pass the CAHSEE I would really like to pass the CASHEE the first try with high scores, I want to get my high school diploma, got to a really good University and become a Nurse but If I don’t pass the CAHSEE than I will never overcome my dreams and the plans I have for myself in the future. So yes I really disagree on having to take this exit exam I mean there should be a test to see where we at but why do they have to put it on our High school Diploma? In my opinion I think there should be a test to see whats our level and if our level is low then they should offer classes to prepared those who haven’t passed it but still cross the stage and receive a high school diploma.
I guess everyone in this world thinks differently. And those who are really smart,literate will always think CASHEE is easy and those who haven’t passed the CASHEE, alaways gets F’s, low GPA will always say CASHEE is a stupid test.

106. Diana says:

[3/3/2008 - 5:17 pm]

The CAHSEE is an insult to anyone’s intelligence. I’m sorry, but it is. I took the CAHSEE last year as a sophomore and here are some of the many horrible questions that they asked us:
Wait… Are you serious? I’m pretty sure the 6th grade girl who I babysit could answer that. I looked at that question and tried to find a trick in it. It couldn’t be THAT easy.
Another question I’m pretty sure the person who I babysit could answer.
My personal favorites were the graphs where it was pretty obvious what the answer was.
Now lets talk about the essay section. The prompt was something like: Talk about something that has character.
Right. My friend outlined his hand and drew a turkey and still passed. Another friend wrote about how a sandwich has character, and I heard about someone who wrote about a bar of soap.
My friend, two years ago, showed up to the test DRUNK and passed.

Maybe it’s because I’m in honors english and in trig, but this test was absolutely horrible. It was basically supervised nap time.

107. Daniel says:

[3/5/2008 - 11:30 am]

I might just be another student to complain about the CAHSEE, but, who cares. In my mind this test was to give people jobs! It was to give people the job of paper shuffling. Thats all it was for. We(high school students) shouldn’t have to take this test! An “Exit Exam” should be for college for when you have to “exit” the program you are finishing, whether its english, math, science, history, anything!

This test is also a complete waste of money and paper that could be used for other purpose

108. karine says:

[3/10/2008 - 4:20 pm]

The CAHSEE is not a pointless thing .
i am a high school student and am getting ready to take the test myself. i have many friends who have already taken the test and said that it was the easiest test made. as long as you know your times tables, and simple algabra you should be able too pass with flying colors. everyone who is complaining about the test really needs to stop and think, it could be 10xs worse then it is. honestly the star test are way harder then the CAHSEE!!and as for the english part.. you speak english everyday. its kinda hard to fail your own language.. is it not ??

109. Daniel says:

[3/13/2008 - 9:05 am]

…I took the test the other day…and I really don’t see why I was complaining about it the whole time.
It wasn’t really that hard

I spoke too soon

110. Jose says:

[4/10/2008 - 5:55 pm]

I cried my eyes out when I found out I did not pass the math part. I take really low math so what makes you think I was gonna pass some hard geometric stuff….you wanna know my opinion…FUCK CAHSEE!!!!!!!!! It’s not like is gonna help use FUCK whoever came up with it…ITS FUCKIN RETARTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

111. ARMY STRONG! says:

[5/15/2008 - 11:45 am]

I thought the CAHSEE was the most retarded test ever invented.You pass the Senior Project get all your credits but don’t pass the CAHSEE and you don’t get your diploma.It has raised the High School drop out rate.If you did not pass the CAHSEE you are considered a high school drop out even if you have all your credit.High school is not the last step in your life it is the first.As for the retard who posted this One Giant Step piece of crap thing in his article.I bet the poster of the article never had to take the CAHSEE.This is coming from a Army Private Hoooahh Army Strong!I support all the law suits against the CAHSEE as well.

112. john says:

[5/15/2008 - 12:59 pm]

As for a SPECIAL ED kid i think we should not take the CAHSEE because some of us are not the the teaching for some of the stuff that are on the CAHSEE so how are we going to pass if we are not getting the teaching that is on it

113. Courtney says:

[5/19/2008 - 1:42 pm]

I’ve read the above arguments, and as a student, I think the CAHSEE is rather unfair. As you’ve all heard, there are variables on why others can’t pass (i.e. inability to understand English, test taking nerves, special education purposes), but simply pushing them aside and saying ‘Oh, they should know these things’ is wrong. I have a disabled sister who is very keen, but she has had continuous problems with the CAHSEE. She is VERY capable by all means, but this damned test is holding back her diploma and future opportunities. More on the subject, she realizes this is even more preventing a ‘normal’ lifestyle and self-sufficiency. Simply assuming she shouldn’t be allowed to graduate is ILLOGICAL; all unfortunately because she has trouble understanding a subject or two. She excels elsewhere, and should not have her future predicted on a test.

I also keep in touch with a teacher from earlier years, and she had test-taking issues — so, is it to say that she should have never received a diploma, in spite of her rather impressive abilities to teach? True, she was not in high school once the CAHSEE was initially added, but the concept is relative.

The CAHSEE may be an excuse to hold back certain minorities from job opportunities. I do not know the intent, other than what has been posted, but this (I would think) is a logical assumption. All I can say is that I highly disagree that the CAHSEE is any bit ‘fair’…

114. Kat says:

[5/30/2008 - 4:28 am]

I am a senior At a community day school…. getting the rest of my credits is nothing but having That damn CAHSEE passed. Is driving me nuts!! I failed all the way from 10th grade… Why you ask? I HAVE NO CLUE!! I didn’t get the education from my teachers due to the fact they yell 90% of the time (Bless they little hearts). Now I’m getting all of my credits but I NEED TO PASS THE TEST!! Grrr.. So I’m suppose to be a class of 08 now I have to be a 09
Ain’t this about a bitch

I have a IEP.. But I lied about not taking it at the school I am in… So If I can’t pass it now what?!?!? Can you help a girl out on this one.. Before I got crazy and end up throwing books in my house… Smh (shaking my head) @ myself


Wanted to be class of 08…

Class of 09 (Grrr)

115. JOHN says:

[6/17/2008 - 4:50 pm]


116. Baby Sister says:

[7/14/2008 - 9:44 pm]

I personally passed my test first time no sweat but my cousin on the other hand has failed it. You guys say its 8th grade math but she scored in the highest math you can get in but she sill has not passed the math portion of the CAHSEE that proves this test is not meant for everyone it sheesh leave us high school students alone we have tp get 230 credits and npw a CAHSEE like what are you trying to prove with all these dumb tests soon junior high students will be give a CAJHSEE, CA junior high student exit exam we already know that we are so smart what else do you need in order for that to be proved.

117. Jimbo says:

[10/2/2008 - 6:58 pm]

Well, I past my test with a 419 and 450, but in general I still believe it’s a waste of time because teachers are spending most of their time reviewing instead of teaching the curriculum. I also get it’s a 8th grade level test, but why give it to sophomores? The test is probably best for freshman since the 8th grade lesson is still fresh in their mind.

118. me says:

[10/3/2008 - 8:00 am]

why should we take it

119. wiw says:

[10/3/2008 - 8:06 am]

tell me this if students who fail this test wat hapens to them

120. Jimbo says:

[10/6/2008 - 10:04 pm]

Students who fail obviously, can’t graduate till they have past the test. The thing is if you fail your school will probably make you take it again and again.

121. Sandy says:

[10/14/2008 - 9:08 pm]

In response to whether or not special education students should recieve the same diploma..of course they should. These are kids with average to high intelligences who just happen to have a learning disabilty in a specific area. They have to work a little harder than the average student to understand or comprehend. How can one justify not allowing them the same priveledge to graduate when many of them have put more effort into their learning than the general education students that I have worked with who do as little as they have to and have the “that’s good enough” attitude. Maybe we should be more concerned about testing our students based upon their abilities. Not everyone is going to be a rocketscientist or a mathematician for crying out loud. Does the word “life Skills” ring a bell??

122. steve says:

[10/16/2008 - 12:28 pm]

Just keep in mind all that even if you have a diploma most will not get a good job that will let them buy a house or have a good life money wise for the most part.

123. Chris says:

[10/26/2008 - 1:39 pm]

My son was diagnosed with Nuerofibromatosis stage 1 in 1991. With this disease it has been noted that most children afflicted will have a learning disability. I put him in school at age three as a mainstream student in a class where the students had other handicaps some minor and some sever. He was a model student. I was hoping he could get a head start in learning the basic skills for kindergarten. He did well but was not as quick to learn in kindergarten. In first grade it was learned he was loosing his hearing in one of his ears. His first grade teacher made such a fuss over us asking to have him placed so he could hear her better. She told us in our sons first IEP meeting in front of our son that she will never have a student in her class that required anything other that what she was willing to give. She did not want a student that needed assistance with speech or hearing because that was disruptive to her and her class. This meeting and her hateful comments stuck with my son. No matter how much we did to explain to him that not all teachers are like this. The Principe at the time made our son stay in this horrible woman’s class and he had put up with her senseless comments. We attended all meetings and class functions. We helped him with all of his studies in hope he would be able to keep up. The teacher continued to degrade him. We did not know our rights back then.

Our son is now 17, a senior and he has and still goes to school every day. His health has been fine with few complications. He studies every day. He passes his tests with the accommodations set in his IEP’s. He takes all required classes and his electives are classes to assist him in understanding what he is learning in his basic education classes. He has not passed the CASHEE at this time and has three more chances to do so. He is however passing his regular education classes. He is attending a High School that does not allow Special Ed classes. He tries to fit in with all of the other kid. Because he gets assistance by having a student aide assist with note taking so he can get all of the benefits of his class, he is still labeled by the other kids as Special Ed. We were told our son would never be made to feel any different because of his disability. High School is no different in San Diego. The kids and teachers can be cruel. Our son wants to attend a community college before going to a university. This is what his High School is pushing him to do. This is a requirement and is part of his senior portfolio. We back him as parents and are moving forward with meetings and helping him plan to follow this path. Will he ever get a degree? Only time will tell. A diploma is necessary in obtaining a job after high school. Denying students this piece of paper is setting them up for possible failure in obtaining a job. Every application asks if you received a diploma or GED. They will not get the same job opportunities as students with a degree and will probably never be given the opportunity to own a home and raise a family in anything other than low income to the low side of middle class. I believe the CASHEE should not stand in the way of getting their diploma. All job applications also ask to what level of education they completed. It is there that a person puts any college they have acquired.

I have read almost all of the posts. I have seen a lot of bickering and name-calling. Does passing the CASHEE prove that a person is smarter than ones that did not pass it? There are people who are not book-smart that go far in life. Some people do better in the work force than they did in school. By not giving the students a diploma that has passed their general education classes is just not fair. If a modified diploma is necessary then so be it. I have never been asked on an application to attach a copy of my diploma just that I have one. I have never been asked to show my college degree only that I have one. The only time the information that was put on my application was important was when I had a background completed to become a public safety dispatcher. Then all of the information on the application was followed up on and it better had been the truth. My husband was a store manager for 25 years. All of the education he received did not help him when a juvenile that was just taking alcohol push him from behind and disabled him for life. The out come of all of the education he received had not helped or prepared him for how he has to live now.

The CASHEE is not helping to make our children accountable for learning but adding more stress to their learning curriculum. The CASHEE should be administered to the students by the end of the 8th grade, if that is the level they want them to pass. The teachers should have been teaching them everything they needed to know up until that time. If the special education students were required to pass this test, they should have been taught the same subjects that were needed to do so. It is a little late to expect them to pass a test they have never been prepared to take. My son is taking a specific class that is geared to passing the CASHEE. So far it has not helped. The teachers are short on patients and the students still have to keep up with their regular classes. Why did our educators wait to start bringing the students up to standards after 2006 if this was common knowledge in 1999? This is just my opinion. I will probably not read any replies so just know that there are a lot of people with stories and do not need to read so many negative things that others say. I do not see where any of the comments are helping to settle the fact that the test will be given no matter what is posted. Now if any of these posts ate getting anwered and headway is being made as to how the CASHEE is helping our children, I am all ears. So far it would appear that what has been taught up until the 8th grade has not been necessary in high school or all students would pass the test on the first attempt. Special Ed students should take a test that is on the level they are or were in 8th grade not where all the other students were in regular education classes.

124. Sheri says:

[10/28/2008 - 1:37 pm]


I am sorry that your son had to endure having a bad apple of a teacher. Here where I live, I have had my fair share of dealing with “bad apples” posing as teachers for either one of my kids. Know that not all teachers are like that.

My eldest is now 19 years old. She graduated in gold, Class of 2007. Yes, graduated – as in she got a diploma. That was only because there was an exemption in place that Gov. Schwarzenegger had signed that affected first the Class of 2006, then the Class of 2007. That exemption was allowed to expire, and as far as I know does not currently exist.

Both of my kids have been in special education classes for all of their educational careers. The CAHSEE was devised in 1999 because of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. He wrote the legislation in 1999 that devised the CAHSEE. The CAHSEE was supposed to go into effect with the graduating Class of 2004, but was put on hold until the graduating Class of 2006.

My daughter failed the CAHSEE every time she took it. She even had to give up part of her summer of 2006 to take the CAHSEE prep classes in the hope that by taking the classes, she would pass. The CAHSEE prep classes did not help her one bit. The only time she has been in regular education classes – aside from the CAHSEE prep classes that one lone summer – was for her phys ed (PE) class in high school.

The CAHSEE tests standards up to 10th grade Algebra/English. These standards are – at least in my district – taught only in regular education classes. So, this would mean that all special ed kids in high school would be forced to take regular education classes just to learn these standards. Also, special ed classes are all modified. Meaning that the special ed curriculum is modified, therefore not the same curriculum as what is taught to regular ed kids.

I admire you and your family for helping your son and have him in mainstream classes. That has to be a rough road to go. While I as a mom would love to have both of my kids in more mainstream classes, the reality for my kids is that won’t happen. We all know firsthand how cruel school can be – at any level – grade, middle, high school. I believe that part of the reason why educators have waited so long, is because they didn’t know what was going to be on the CAHSEE so that they could teach it. The fault for the long wait I feel lies squarely on the shoulders of the state educational leaders.

I hope that your son does as well as he can, regardless of the CAHSEE issue. I am sorry that your husband is in the position he is in now. And you are right – no matter how much of an education one may or many not have will not help them in the real world when it comes to things like what happened to your husband. I hope that he is as comfortable as possible. Keep advocating for your son. We as parents are our kids’ biggest fans and advocates.

125. Jensen says:

[12/8/2008 - 9:05 pm]


I’m doing a controvesial essay for an eglish assignment, and on my source research chart, i need the name of who wrote this article

126. Jensen says:

[12/8/2008 - 9:19 pm]

nvm, i got it…todd?

127. MIke says:

[1/31/2009 - 9:04 pm]

Will the CAHSEE ever go away now that Obama is in the White House?

128. Heather says:

[2/1/2009 - 10:36 am]

Shame on you!! Students in past years received a diploma for doing the same work but now these students wont earn one if they can’t pass the test. What if these students have done everything in there power and still don’t pass the test? You are assuming these students and families are “sue happy”. How do you know? You did a study? You are a cynical wise guy who thinks he has all the answers. You said it yourself “is not flawless.” Your suggestion that parents have their students transfer to a new school if the material is not being taught is ridiculous. How disruptive would that be? You obviously don’t know anything about children in this age bracket. You are sarcastic and judgemental. Again, depending on the state you live in, one student will earn a diploma without taking a proficiency test while others will not.

129. Todd says:

[2/1/2009 - 11:52 am]

Not sure how you reached all those personal insults, Heather. Not sure where you drew the conclusion I’m assuming families are sue happy, that I’m a wise guy, etc. Let’s keep those kinds of things out of this and stick to the facts. Here is a test that says, “Hey, show us your mastery of 10th grade standards.” The student is asked to display their skill and, with minimum skill shown, the student passes. What’s wrong with setting a minimum skill level that students must show as part of what’s required to earn a diploma? This is finally a test that students care about passing and need to pass (as opposed to STAR tests, for which passing earns the student nothing).

If you want to compare things to previous years, is that to suggest that our requirements in education should never change because it isn’t fair to those who have come before? This test isn’t fair because the class of, say, 2000 didn’t have to pass it in order to get a diploma?

A solution that isn’t flawless is still a potential solution. We need to work on fixing it, but that doesn’t mean we should throw out. I’ve already said that exceptions for SpEd and ELs need to be made. Other than that, if a student can’t demonstrate minimum competency on 10th-grade (and a few 8th-grade) standards in ELA and math, that student has not earned a diploma. I don’t see where the shame is in declaring that.

130. Susana ESpinoza says:

[2/1/2009 - 4:16 pm]

Hey everyone I feel for what you guys are saying.I have meet all the requirments needed to graduate high school the only thing I need is to pass the math part of the cahsee. I only have two more chances to take the cahsee.If If I don’t pass the cahsee all my hard work was for nothing, just because I cant pass a test. The cahsee doesn’t prove what I have learned in the last four or so years of school. Let me tell you I am terriable at math. How am I supposed to pass? I need to get my diploma. I want to pursue my career and I won’t be able to do that because I can’t pass this stupid test.I have a 2 month old daughter I want to give her everything but I wont be able to.This test is gong to ruin the rest of my life.Good paying jobs don’t accept you without a diploma.I will have to work in a fastfood place for the rest of my life to support my family.All due to the cahsee test.I don’t get how come before students didn’t need to pass the cahsee to get a diploma.I know a bit of people who gave up in school because they could not pass the cahsee.If ANYONE CAN GET THESE COMMENTS TO OBAMA PLEASE HELP ALL OF US IN NEED.

131. cece says:

[2/2/2009 - 6:59 pm]

I Think this test is so unfair it makes no sense to all of a sudden make it a requirement to graduate from high school when all of these years all people had to do was complete their required courses such as Math & English at the most. Not all people are so bright in these subjects some of us barely made it through high school let alone all the tutoring and stress we had to go through just to finish a homework assignment in whatever subject that may be, rather its math or English. Ive struggled with math my whole high school year, took me years to figure a problem out, yet i still got the work done. Its bad enough we have to worry about Getting to school on time,keeping our grades up,finals,graduating and then this? its ridiculous if that’s the case i think all previous students.. etc should all be required to take this test then lets see who passes and who doesn’t. I bet most people such as our Elders who have high school diplomas will not have diplomas today if it was for the CAHSEE. Like i said, i just don’t find it fair to the students from 2006 on… i finished school in 2007 i am now 20 years old now stressing over taking a CAHSEE [Math] test Feb 4, 2009 Weds because of trying my very best.. and still not passing it this is ridiculous… some of us JUST DONT GET IT..Ive always wanted to just drop out of school for this reason but i kept pushing i may not have a high school diploma but i do have a Certificate of Completion and i am so proud of myself for how far i have come in this messed up World. Its unfair that those of us who may be slower learners with certain subjects have to go through this its sad that we Call this a free country yet we are not treated equally some of us feel like we are not welcome here because we are all put into categories vs. just being equal. but anyway i am praying i pass this time im soo sick of stressing over this test i just want it all to be done and over with and wish those who are struggling with this test the best of luck!!!

Because of this test My self esteem is soo low. =[ Race in some facts do have something to do with this test as you see they look at which Nationality did better on the test as if they say whites are smarter than others leaving behind Latinos and blacks with the lower scores why does this even matter?

i hope this changes soon

132. Jennifer says:

[2/2/2009 - 7:46 pm]

Wow todd and sheri, I have read all the post on this and you two have been posting since 2006.

Well I am doing a debate on this for school and let me just tell you sheri, you helped me alot with what you wrote on the topic with the links and all.

First of all I am in the 11th grade and I have a GPA of 3.5 and I actually found the cahsee hard, and yes I did pass it the first time but its just the thought of doing all the work in my other classes and passing every single one of them but because of a dumb test not being able to graduate that made me really worry. And I know if it was hard for me how hard it must have been for your daughter. And the fact of the matter, is that the test shouldnt be given to students with IEP’s. Now I think for a test like the cahsee to get passed into high schools to be used, the people that make this up should have to take the test and pass it, for it to get approved.

And sheri I think that the people posting on here was so ready to shut you down and prove their point, they werent even thinking about what you were writing and how you of everyone on this blog thing should know what your talking about because you have 2 kids that were going through this, they didnt so they had no clue.

I hope all goes well on my debate….. happy writing

133. 2007 Student says:

[2/3/2009 - 1:08 am]


134. Heather says:

[2/10/2009 - 8:49 pm]

Will you try everything within your power to pass this test?

Of course not! You’ll sue! And many adults will back you up.

This is where I drew my conclusion, taking special notation to the exclamation points used.

The author writes, shame on lawyers for accepting these cases. Criminals can hire lawyers but someone being discriminated against should be shamed to do so?

Why does the author assume a student who hasn’t passed the test feels panic at the last minute because they squandered 12 years of education away? We don’t know this. Reading the student comments posted here, it appears they have tried and done everything else as far as credits earned. These comments also show these students have been negatively impacted by this test requirements and I am here to advocate for these students.

As for the education being free, I think all those parents paid plenty in taxes.

A high school diploma did mean something before the CAHSEE.
It meant you attended for four years, had good citizenship, passed your classes and earned enough credits for a diploma.

For all students and parents concerned, it is a state law and therefore Gov. Schwarzenegger is the one to write to not Obama. Here is a website:


135. Todd says:

[2/10/2009 - 9:51 pm]

Leaving the lawsuit out for a minute, do you mean to say that having a test in place where students have to show at least familiarity with 10th- and some 8th-grade standards is a problem? Assuming all schools deliver the education they should, would this test be something you’d still rally against?

Back to your issues: This test was known about in 2004, with the original discussion of it having begun in 1999, but this major lawsuit wasn’t filed until 2006, the year it became a requirement. My argument is that the case should have been filed much earlier. Doing so would have lent credibility to the defendants. I’m taking umbrage with the delay and timing.

If you read the articles I linked to, you’ll see details lacking in terms of how it is that schools failed to deliver the instruction needed. As a teacher, I just don’t buy that entire schools didn’t give students what they need to pass this test. That’s my opinion and my observations, so that’s what I wrote about. I also am much more a believer in teenage procrastination and apathy, though I would heartily accept the claim that public education needs to be reformed. Even a quick glace at this site would tell you that. Still, I think the system works well enough to prepare students for the CAHSEE (having seen several versions of the test itself and know how poor the writing can be and still earn a passing grade).

As far as negatively impacted, I bet I could get more students to respond in this way if I wrote about grades in general. Or parents. The fact is that I’m reading no more trauma than I hear from students on a daily basis about school as a whole or even about the entire teenage experience. So the negative impact voiced here carries no more weight with me than the usual slew of teenage issues (and I’m not belittling those in any way, just lumping them into a category). So are we going to get rid of school because it negatively impacts students when they earn Fs or take classes they aren’t interested in or have their lunch money stolen or have that girl *not* give them a phone number? Honestly, I’m not seeing a difference in terms of the way this impacts students. That doesn’t make it any less full of impact, I’m just trying to gain some perspective.

We’re all here to advocate for students. You and I just disagree on how to go about doing that. Let’s neither of us try to claim that flag as solely our own.

I firmly believe that tutoring will be demanded and that coursework will be more seriously tended to with the CAHSEE in place. Provided that we have a test that fairly says what the CAHSEE purports (show your ability on these 10th- a few 8th-grade standards), I really am at a loss for why this is problematic.

136. Sheri says:

[2/11/2009 - 12:23 pm]

Heather – people do need to also write to the President. Whether it be Mr. Obama, or his successor. The reason I say this is because the CAHSEE is part of the NCLB Act. The CAHSEE was enacted in 1999, by Mr. O’Connell while he was a state legislator, in response to the NCLB. The NCLB is Mr. George W. Bush’s pet project, and remains in effect despite Mr. Obama now being president.

So, not only does Gov. Schwarzenegger and Mr. O’Connell need to be contacted, so does Mr. Obama.

137. Paige says:

[2/21/2009 - 4:52 pm]

HI, im a student at a Charter high school in California. I believe that students shouldnt be forced in taking the CASHEE testing. why? We have reports,projects,homework, assignments, presentation, Community service(100 hours for me) we have to memorize EVERYTHING, have to have enough credits, out side activites, and read. We already have tests and finals, we shouldn’t have to take another state test just to tell us that we can graduate and get a diploma. It isnt fair.

We already have STAR testing and PSAT and College school Entrance Exams. HOW MANY TEST DO WE NEED! We, students struggle to get PASSING grades! I hate to see a “D” or a “F” on my transcript. I dont like getting “C’s” either but I try my hardest. Im a Sophomore and I believe you can take the test this year. My school is Performing Atrs as well so I im in the Drama Academy and I have to memorize lots of lines and do Charater Analysis Portfolio that’s graded out of 500 points! On top of that I have Spanish (also a lot of memorization) and Chemistry, and Geometry. I have a block shedule for Chemistry and English, 99 mins per class every other day. Let’s not forget Chemistry is hard. I sit in another chemistry class everyday after school just so I UNDERSTAND IT. I go to tutoring for math as much as I can so I can get an “A” in the class.

In conclusion students should’nt have to take the CHASEE testing. Alot of students are not good test takers like me. You learn material, your confident ready to take the test and you end up getting a “F or D”! We teenagers already have enough pressure on us as it is. We almost don’t have a life for some of us because your to worried about passing test, quizzes, finals, and getting to the college of your dream, get your permit (to drive), get a job. We already have to have enough credits to graduate so why do we have to take this test. I dont want to repeat another year.=( I feel that you should pass all your class and get enough credits and do service hours to walk across that stage and recieve a dipolma.

138. Paige says:

[2/21/2009 - 4:55 pm]

You’re more than welcome to reply to my comment. I just wanted to share how I felt about it because I have to do a Argumentative Essay on it in English. OO GOODIE! not!.

139. Duong says:

[3/9/2009 - 3:47 pm]

I’m a ESL student, I came to the US in my junior years and I took a CAHSEE test with all my confusing. I talked my counseler and she said that I have to take this test because it’s a part for graduate!!! I was thinking about it for while. My transcript was transfered by my teacher so in my senior year i need to take US History, American Government, Economic,… It’s alot!!!. I can’t even breath because alot of homework, project, presentation, vocabularies, gramars of all class. for today I earned enough credit for graduate, but the scarest in my brain is the passing Cahsee. Is that fair for us??? the people who alway worked hard in school. Did the state do it right in that case???

140. Jon says:

[4/14/2009 - 11:50 pm]


Interesting perspective, but I must disagree with you. By the way, I’m talking to you as a freshman in a California community college who is transferring to Cornell University next semester, and I had no problems with the test at all. I just do not think these kinds of exit exams are beneficial. I agree the Special Ed argument is a separate issue that must be dealt with regardless of the test. Hopefully the issues I am about to bring up have not already been discussed in the previous…139 posts. I read much of the first hundred, but I did not get to the rest.

One problem with the CAHSEE is that those students who do not pass (many of whom will not go to college and would be more likely to take vocational courses) are forced to take courses in order to prepare for the next time they take the test. These required courses take away available slots in a students schedule that could be used on vocational education, that to many students would be more beneficial.

Another thing I do not understand is, why is it so bad to give diplomas to students that pass the courses necessary to graduate; why is it necessary to add on another level of assessment? If they are able to do this, shouldn’t they have at least a basic understanding of the subject matter being tested? You could then say that maybe they are not being taught well and are just passing easy courses and that the problem is with the teachers/schools/curriculum/etc. If this is the case, why not get rid of the test for now, save money, and use that money to better fund under-performing schools so that they have a chance to become average-performing schools.

My last thought (as of now) is: how much significance does a high school diploma need to hold? I understand that it should not be a worthless piece of paper, but I do not understand the importance of how significant a high school diploma is. I assume you are talking about how many jobs and companies will only higher people with some sort of degree from a university. The way I see it though, what is wrong with a high school diploma being less significant? Wouldn’t this mean that people are more likely to pursue a higher education? If high school diplomas are given too much more significance, people may be more willing to settle with whatever jobs are being offered, and would not reach for the next step. In many of my classes, there are people in their 20’s or older who graduated high school and joined the workforce, but are going back to school to eventually earn four year degrees. They have seen what limited potential having only a high school diploma offers, and are trying to better themselves through more education.
[I understand that I may be a bit biased with this last issue as I have grown up assuming that I will go to college and probably post-graduate studies, but I do not see the harm in setting a goal for people, and having actual financial rewards (in the form of higher pay) waiting for them.]

I am interested to know your take on these issues. Please let me know what you think.

141. Eurie says:

[4/24/2009 - 7:32 am]

I think the CAHSEE is necessary, so students can see what level they are, what improvements they need to have, and what skills they need to achieve. The CAHSEE will help show you your errors in school and help you fix it.
I think the CAHSEE is easy, simple, and absolutely necessary. :D

142. Jenn* says:

[5/8/2009 - 9:52 am]

I understand that you have Special Ed kids and I also understand how you would probably feel seeing your own kids not being able to pass an exam that shouldnt even be taken by CA students. But, it not only effects S.E kids it effect everyone. You, saying that sports don’t matter and that people would rather teach immigratnts english, dosent compare to your S.E kids education, is kind of selfish. Believe it or not some students want to become Football players or play the Flute for a living. But, clubs,sports and diff. programs are being cut off because we, as a state, are in a crisis because part of it has to do with us distributing 44.7 million dollars to your S.E kids just so they can prepare for the test. So don’t get so anal about us “not caring” about the S.E kids and that extra reticulums arnt as important as your kids education. I, myself am anti-CAHSEE. I believe its a waste of time, it’s wrong and honestly, I just think it’s another way for schools and districts to seem more inadequate to other shoools and districts.

143. Sheri says:

[5/8/2009 - 11:08 am]

Jenn* –

I’m not being ‘anal’ about anything ok? I am simply stating that SpEd students are NOT taught the same standards that Reg Ed kids rae taught simply because SpEd curriculum is MODIFIED from REgEd curriculum. Therefore, since SpEd kids also have to take the CAHSEE, then they should be giving a MODIFIED CAHSEE based on the standards/curriculum taught/used. Period, end of story.

As for teaching immigrant English – this is a waste of time, money and resources in EVERY school district. Districts have to hire bilingual personnel for this, have letters and such translated/printed/mailed. All of which costs EXTRA money that districts don’t have, even more so now given the economic situation on the state AND federal levels.

I know and am aware that ALL students – RegEd AND SpEd – are required to take the CAHSEE. I have known this since day one of the CAHSEE. Do NOT confuse ignorance/arrogance with being passionate about something. I am not being ignorant/arrogant, I am being passionate. There is a difference.

As for sports vs teaching immigrant English – I have said that sports (extra curricular) is NOT going to help you pass the CAHSEE, so therefore, do away with the extra curicular, touchy feely feel good foo foo crap, and concentrate on the academics that have MORE to do with a student passing the CAHSEE than someone being a Bret Favre or Manny Ramirez. Kids that play in after school sports generally only maintain the minimum GPA necessary to remain on the teams they play on. Not all kids are this way, but I have seen far too many that are. They don’t take their education serious enough. It’s what one learns IN the classroom – NOT the football field – that dictates success or failure, NOT some sports scholarship.

And the big bucks that are paid to those who become pro players tends to be the target for some of the kids. I’m not against having goals, but there needs to be balance.

As for me being selfish, yeah, so what? We should be taking care of our own FIRST, not last if at all. And that is what is happening in schools all across the nation when additional staff, translation services, etc take up money and time that district DO NOT HAVE!!! Last I checked, being selfish in this are was NOT a crime. If it is, sue me. I don’t care.

As far as being in debt because $44.7 million is being distributed just so my SpEd kids can prepare for the test has absolutely NOTHING to do with the economy. If you think it does, then you’re wrong and making such a statement is pretty discriminatory. Do you have a disabled family member? Do you have kids of your own? Are they disabled? If the answer is no to each of my questions, then you don’t know what it’s like. School districts are required by law to provide FAPE. Look that up. It’s part of the education code and law.

There are far too many illegals here that refuse to learn the language, go about being in the US the right way. I’m tired of having my taxes skyrocket exponentially so that they can use our hospitals and such to get free/reduced cost services. Eduction is included on that. And I am not the only that is tired of this.

144. Jenn* says:

[5/8/2009 - 5:59 pm]

Oh so you ARE being selfish. You’re talking about having a balance and stuff. Well then you care about your own S.E kids and others will care about their own Manny Ramirez kids…instead of just being selfish and wanting people to care more about your kids life&education. Second, I never mentioned the economy once, I was stating the states crisis as in giving schools money (like budgets). Because that is what we’re talking about…schools. Third, you think my statement on us distributing millions on your kids preparation is an ‘pretty discriminatory’ statement, what about you and immigrants? Just because a bilingual Mexican will probably make more money than you doesn’t mean you have to go on being so damn ‘pretty discriminate’ yourself about it too. Also, how the hell do you know that kids who are in sports ‘don’t take their education serious enough’? I’m pretty sure you don’t have your “research” or “proof” on that. Besides, when students apply for a college and the colleges look at their transcripts, they look for how well you were involved with school and how much experience you had/have. So it would be more significant to them. I’m sorry that your kids don’t have perfect mental health or that It’s hard on you or whatever the case may be. But, sitting at your computer and posting comments that make it seem that you only care about yourself (which you probably do), is not going to make a change to your opinion or make things better. If you’re sooo “Passionate” about it,like you said, stop wasting your time posting comments that arn’t going to effect you in anyway. Get up and ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT IITTT!!

145. Sam says:

[5/9/2009 - 10:28 am]

i agree with Jenn* 100%
do something about it instead of blabbing your life away on comments

146. Sheri says:

[5/9/2009 - 11:33 am]

Ok.look you 2. State budgets are based in part on what does or does not happen federally. Second, why would kids want to aspire to be like the Manny Ramirez’s of sports? Granted, not all who go to plat pro sports end up like that. It is rather hard to show positive pro sports role models when the news shows only the negative.

So what if I am being selfish? My kids were BORN disabled. There are plenty of immigrants – regardless if they are here legally or not – that make CHOICES to NOT learn the langugage of their new country. Stop making my children’s disabilities out to be something they are NOT. MY kids did NOT CHOOSE to be disabled. They were BORN disabled. Get over that.

As far as ‘sitting’ at my computer posting comments, I do far more away from my computer than you could ever hope to know. You have absolutely NO CLUE as to what goes on in my home, stop acting like you do. I know the difference between being passionate about something and what you’re confusing it to be something other than that.

I have done a lot more here in my own school district as it related to the CAHSEE than you think I have done, or continue to do. School districts are REQUIRED BY LAW to provide FAPE – look that one up – to disabled students. If they don’t then they get sued.

I know of what I am ‘blabbing’ about. I do far more than what you imply I do. I care about my kids first and foremost, if that makes me ‘selfish’ then friggin sue me. Get over that one, drop it. You simply don’t know, and I don’t care what you may or may not think. It’s clear you don’t care, you don’t think, and you have NO KNOWLEDGE of what goes in in my household. I know and have seen that far more money is spent on the free ride wanting/lazy immigrants than on the disabled. I also know that not all immigrants are that way.

Do NOT try to tear into me again either of you (Jenna* or Sam). You won’t win.

147. Sam says:

[5/9/2009 - 2:39 pm]

woah woah.
I didn’t know this was a competition.

I have a question for you Sheri.

148. micheal says:

[5/9/2009 - 2:44 pm]

I think Sheri spends more time posting useless comments on here (like people care) than she spends more time actually “caring” for her special kids.

149. Sheri says:

[5/18/2009 - 7:19 pm]

Sam and Micheal –

Don’t worry about what I may or may not be doing as it relates to my kids. My posts make sense, although I can’t say the same for yours.

The CAHSEE discriminates against SpEd students because there isn’t an alternative assessment CAHSEE for SpEd to take based on the standards/curriculum SpEd students are taught. I have emails from Mr. O’Connell to prove that he refuses to devise a SpEd CAHSEE alternative assessment. The STAR tests have the SpEd alternative called the CAPA. I know, as my 12 year old has taken the CAPA.

So, what you are telling me is that you would rather continue to pay higher taxes to pay for all of the illegals to have FAPE, yet not when it comes to the SpEd students that are here legally? Talk about discrimination, you have that one down good.


150. Sand says:

[6/2/2009 - 7:10 pm]

I just got my CAHSEE results in the mail, and I passed it. What’s so bad about it? It’s just testing to see if you know enough skills to survive after high school. The bottom line is, unless a student is in the exception, if they can’t pass the CAHSEE, they would have a difficult time after high school.

151. kalya says:

[6/24/2009 - 8:44 am]

i agree with the issue about special ed student shouldn’t take the CAHSEE. because some students just dont really have the ability of passing it reguardless its just some special ed students like myself haven’t passed it because of what we are nt being taught in class its only amont of thing that i could remember before i take the CAHSEE i be trying my best like i be putting my heart into it cause my thought when i first take it is, “oh yeah ima passs this or ima atleast go a lil over the score”.

152. tatayana says:

[7/24/2009 - 8:00 am]

you know what people that think special ed student should take the test is stupid i only in the 11 th grade i stilll have nt pass the test i feel bad because my school have nt thought it to me at all . yes im in ESL .everytime people tell e oh i pass the test im feeel so stupid its not funny

153. JoAnne says:

[8/15/2009 - 1:31 pm]

Wow. Lots of passion on both sides of the “argument” here. It’s good when people care. What follows are my thoughts as a California educator with 18 years’ experience, the last 3 being teaching the CAHSEE prep class for juniors and seniors who have taken, and failed, the test at least once.

The CAHSEE ELA measures the ability to read and write in English. If you have a certain level of literacy, you will pass. If you don’t, you will struggle. There are questions on the test that are ridiculously convoluted and far too dependent on personal interpretation, but the majority are straightforward, fair, and a fairly decent indicator of whether the test-taker has the ability to decode and comprehend the written word.

I tell the above to my students at the beginning of each year, after I’ve given them the chance to wail and gnash their teeth at the injustice of it all. I say that, while it’s possible that they DO have enough literacy after all, and that maybe they just need to take the test more seriously the next time, if they couldn’t pass it the first time out of the gate, they need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. Passing is evidence of *minimal* achievement. I can’t continue to let themselves and others delude them into thinking that their literacy skills are anything other than barely adequate at best. What a passing score (350) on the CAHSEE English test means in terms of a raw score varies from year to year, but it hovers around 50 or so correct questions out of a possible 72, assuming an essay score of at least 1.0. With an essay score of 2.0 or higher, the number of correct multiple-choice questions necessary is even lower. The bar is not set high, and I would be doing a grave disservice to my students to contribute to any false confidence they have about how well they read. I do so in as supportive a way as possible, but most of them (especially the students who get A’s and B’s in their classes) have been lied to for far too long. It would be malpractice for my doctor to fail to remind me EVERY time I see him that I’m 50 pounds overweight, even though it makes me feel bad about myself, and I use this example for my students. I *know* I’m fat, and I *know* what I would need to do to lose the weight if I chose to make it a priority, which I haven’t had to…yet. And, like with me and my weight, they now have a decision to make: the situation is not ideal, so what are they going to do about it? Luckily for them, I say, I know the secret to passing the CAHSEE ELA. And then I tell them what it is, and the year begins.

For the record, the standards addressed by the CAHSEE ELA are actually closer to those from grades 5-8, not 9/10. Which is actually a *good* thing, because the ELA standards after grade 8 are for the most part not well-conceived. It’s reasonable for the state of California to expect its high school graduates to be able to read and comprehend both expository and narrative text well enough to identify and understand things like main idea, cause and effect relationships, symbolism, how to support an interpretation or argument, figurative language, theme, author’s tone and purpose, standard English grammar, syntax, usage, and mechanics. All of these (and more) are contained in the late elementary and middle school standards, but once students move on to high school, the expectations become both unrealistic and unmeasurable. Should a high school graduate recognize an author’s use of ambiguity, irony, subtlety, and contradiction? Absolutely. But the standard says that freshmen and sophomores in high school should be able to “INTERPRET and EVALUATE” the *impact* of those things. I’m not even sure I — a college-educated voracious reader — even knows what that *means* much less how to show that I can do it. Fortunately there are few, if any, questions on the CAHSEE designed to assess a student’s mastery of that particular standard, or of any of the other equally convoluted expectations found in the ELA 11/12 Grade Level Standards.

The CAHSEE isn’t a perfect literacy assessment instrument, but it is, IMHO, a valid one.

154. Alyssa(: says:

[9/14/2009 - 7:38 pm]

i dont think its fairr that your saying (sheri) that sports arent important. They are too! they help kids stay out of trouble! and teaching immigrants isnt a waste of money! thats a lil ignorant if you ask me.

155. Sheri says:

[9/29/2009 - 10:19 am]

Alyssa –

When I say that sports aren’t important, it’s meant that they are NOT MORE important than one’s education. Sports do not get one through life. While they may keep kids out of trouble and such, one’s education is what truly prepares one for their future. Period, end of story. I know of many students that never participated in sports – primarily because they were too busy focusing on their education – that were never in any sort of trouble, not tagging/doing graffiti, not running amok on their parents names, etc. Sports are only a very small part – if at all – of the picture.

Also, when I say that teaching immigrants is a waste of money – it’s a direct reference to those whom are here ILLEGALLY!!! Illegal immigrants are using up resources – education and otherwise – that they have no business having access to, because they are here illegally. So, this is NOT being ignorant. I am tired of having my tax dollars – just like many Americans – spent on people who choose to break our laws. If we were talking LEGAL immigrants who abide by the laws and such, then that’s different altogether.

Be careful whom you call ignorant.

156. sam says:

[10/9/2009 - 7:51 pm]

Sheri, I haven’t read all of your position (mostly since your posts are so long :P), but here is a different side of the special-ed issue:

I personally know a special-ed helper that encourages these tests because she feels that this is a great opportunity for them to be stimulated and challenged and held accountable for their education. And this is coming from someone who deals with such children daily.
I understand your position on the issue, and many parents do oppose teachers on the topic of education, making this conflict unsurprising, in a way. So it all comes down to this: whether parents or professional educators know best.

Also, if we give those who do not pass the exam such diplomas, we are telling them that they will be able to function in this world. But really, how well can any person be able to function if they cannot do 8th grade math or 10th grade english?
Lawsuits have been filed on the claim that “I can’t function in the world, so why did you give me a diploma and lie to me and leave me unprepared for life!?!” and the students won. That is why the NCLB Act and CAHSEE came along.

I’m sure Alyssa was just cautioning you, and all the commentators. If we do not elaborate and clearly explain what we mean to say, people can misunderstand and become offended, which further inhibits effective communication of opinions.

And, of course, the idea of these kind of things are to spread such ideas.

157. Monta Vista Student says:

[10/19/2009 - 4:36 pm]

The CAHSEE was a piece of cake; just about everyone I know got 100% on it. If people who barely passed it got into the college that I couldn’t because I got C’s in my classes and they had A’s.. that’d be a bit insulting.
The test is just a way to pick out the people that actually learned everything they should have, from the people that are most certainly not ready for the real world. If people can’t do 8th grade material, why should they be given a diploma?

158. Mike says:

[10/30/2009 - 8:29 pm]

Wow. I am in awe ate the responces to the CAHSEE. This is rather sad. Not only is the CAHSEE one of the easiest test bar none, but it is also an exam that exemplifies America’s stupidity.

The CAHSEE test is EASY. I would be surpirsed if an eighth grader failed the English portion. As for the Math, well, that’s a tad harder, but still easy.

This is just sad. When everyone complains about their workload and maintaining their grades… I sure hope your damn grade is a 4.2 and that you are an AP student. As for sports? It’s not that hard to juggle athletics and education, unless you are a state champion, which from the constant bitching, I doubt you guys are.

450/450 biatch, no studying or any of that shit. Suck a nut. If you fail this exam you are NOT ready for a university.

159. Edgar says:

[12/15/2009 - 2:06 pm]

Seriously, I support the CAHSEE. I graduated Highs School with honors, won 2 scholarships, won 4 theatre awards and participated in all of hollywood high productions. I also took AP classes from English to US History… and I managed to do all this in 3 years.. yes. I am not an American student. I was born and raised in Mexico. California really needs to step up and raise the standards because to be honest, I didnt learn anything in high school. Really, nothing.. It is sad that students on AP classes dont know the difference between a verb and a noun or who the first president of the united states was.. reallys ad.
I was not a straight A student. my lowest grade was a C on tenth grade enlgish… yes, the first year i was in high school.

No, I was not a little wallflower, I actually went partying and so forth.. Never spent more than 2 hours studying for anything.. and I passed all my classes…
People, open your eyes.

Why do I support the CAHSEE? because students lack disipline and they really need to get their act together. Dont complain about school being hard, because it is not at all. What you Americans learn in 12 grade.. I learned it in the equivalent to 8 grade… so… really, you guys suck.

By the way I passed the CAHSEE on my first try and got on the top 10 scores of my high school.. IN BOTH ENGLISH AND MATH… really, how can I do it and you can’t? American?

Oh, you can also fin my name on a plaque at the HHS museum.. thank you.

160. tyrese says:

[1/14/2010 - 1:44 pm]

I think this whole CAHSE thing is unfair for those who are attending school in the US AND DIDN’T NOT up here in the US,I ment someone who has a different experience for other Country elementary teaching,will that person be force to take the CAHSEE?!? I don’t think so!

161. victor says:

[1/24/2010 - 11:35 pm]

I will say that for a student the english is his second lenguage is very hard to pass the CAHSSE at the first time. and I’m talking for all those students that are not born here in the united states. I’m latino and I just have 2 years that I moved from my country..and the first time that i took the test I did not know anything about this test… for consecuence I fail the test. I felt horrible about it. because if I could pass the test I wasn’t gonna graduete… so I have decided that the next time I was going to prepare my self for the exam.and fanaly I passed the englesh part…because I think this test is very important and it has to be taken seriously in order to graduete from high school. so if I have passed the CAHSSE that have a few years in the U.S. If You are latino like me you can do it too…….

162. Mr. H says:

[3/3/2010 - 9:59 pm]

I teach math at a big urban high school, and I love having tests like the CAHSEE out there. It puts my students and I on the same side against a common for –the dreaded test. That’s a healthy situation for teaching and learning. Going a step further, I wish ALL grading (midterms, finals, and even more, if possible) were done by someone other than me. The pressure on teachers to pass their students even though they haven’t learned the material is HUGE. Students, of course, want you to pass them, their parents do, and most importantly, the administrators (the people who hire, fire, and assign teachers their schedules) also want high pass rates. Nobody except the lone teacher with a strong idea of right and wrong stands in favor of honest grading. Let someone else do it –let my school administration start LIKING me for having so many students who pass the class instead of DISLIKING me for asking for the support I need to help the students learn.

163. Christian M says:

[3/17/2010 - 5:31 pm]

I just took the CAHSEE and let me tell you, it is a joke. I dont see why people are complaining;if you can’t pass the CAHSEE you should kill yourself.

164. mark says:

[4/29/2010 - 2:42 am]

If you can’t pass the CAHSEE, you shouldn’t be allowed in high school. Perfect score here. Hours spent studying: 0. It should be renamed the California High School Entrance Exam. Oh, and English is not my first language.

165. Sheri says:

[5/2/2010 - 7:33 pm]

Not real bright there, Christian M – encouraging suicide. And to Mark, its attitudes like yours that discourage others from even trying. Get over yourself. That’s great that you didn’t need to study to pass the CAHSEE. Maybe you should have not been allowed into high school. Getting into high school has nothing to do with whether or not one can pass the CAHSEE. It has to do with your grades or lack thereof.

And by the way, CDE and CA Department of Ed have just recently enacted legislation that guarantees Sp Ed kids are no longer required to pass the CAHSEE as a condition of getting a diploma. All they have to do now is just pass all classes and get all required credits.

166. Carol says:

[6/5/2010 - 8:22 pm]

Very impressive blog, Todd. You managed to pull in a lot of people, especially students. That’s always a good thing.
Before I get to the real topic at hand, CAHSEE, I want to address a paragraph Sherri made a couple of years ago(when does time become relevant here?) She wrote:
“As for the ELL students – unless you are also a Special Ed student – you have no right to cry foul over the CAHSEE. Stop being whining, lazy people and learn English. You came to America for a better life. Having a better life includes learning the language, as well as addressing ALL Americans IN ENGLISH. Since I have to work hard to have a good life here – and I was born in America – then ALL immigrants must do the same. I am tired of having my taxes continue to skyrocket because immigrants – primarily ILLEGAL – break AAmerica’s laws without fear of reprisal.”
Holy Cow! I’ll ignore the “whining and lazy” comments and go straight to the tax comment. Undocumented immigrants are here on behalf of an unannounced, informal invitation by our government so that somebody can pick your tomatoes, make your hotel bed and butcher your beef. Would you take those jobs? I bet not. We DO collect taxes from these hardworking people, alien or otherwise. Oh yeah, there are some illegal workers here that are not paying their taxes, to be sure. Just as there are some fat cats on Wall Street and English speaking legal residents that are also not paying their taxes. They aren’t working nearly as hard but they are earning more in one day than those “lazy, whining illegal aliens” earn in a lifetime. Do you really think that it is our grape pickers and house cleaners that are making our taxes soar? Think again.
As for ELL’s and crying foul over the CAHSEE. Sherri, you mention that the ELL should be able to take the CAHSEE after being in this country for two years. Wrong again. It takes between six months to two year to acquire Basic Interpersonal Conversation Skills. That means being able to converse on very basic level with a very limited vocabulary. On the other hand, research shows us that it take five to seven years to master Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency. (CALPS) This is what you need to function in school at any given age. You need CALPS to take the CAHSEE. It is just not that simple.
As for CAHSEE and special ed. I am learning disabled as is my daughter. I am a teacher, middle school English. I am earning my Masters degree in TESOL right now (so far receiving a 4.0 GPA) and found this blog because I am researching high school exit exams for an assignment. If I had to take the CAHSEE, I would fail. Do you know why? I have Dyscalculia. It is a math disability. I cannot do math above a 5th grade level. I had to study very, very hard to pass the CBEST several years ago.
The California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) was developed to meet requirements of laws relating to credentialing and employment. This test requirement in no way replaces any of the other requirements of subject matter knowledge, professional preparation, and practice teaching or field experience used in the issuance of credentials. The CBEST is designed to test basic reading, mathematics, and writing skills found to be important for the job of an educator
It took me three tries, each time studying months for it and then when I took it I sat at that desk in the test taking room for FIVE freaking hours nonstop doing just math. I barely passed it, in fact I believe it was a accident that I did pass it. I think that I might have guessed a few correctly because as I was taking the test I was acutely aware that I wasn’t really comprehending the calculation process. Perhaps it was divine intervention or just dumb luck, I don’t know, and I guess it doesn’t matter, because I am an English teacher. The only times I need math for in teaching is when I calculate grades and I use programs and calculators. Even for that it takes me a long time to do. Nevertheless, my passage allowed me to go on to earn my teaching credential at age 51. I’m told I’m a good teacher. I enjoy it very much and I have tremendous compassion for my students. I value literacy and education and work hard to pass this on to my students.
Back to the CAHSEE. I think one assessment is simply not feasible when you have so many variables. I don’t know the answer though. I just wanted to address the ELL comments.

167. Sheri says:

[6/10/2010 - 10:38 am]

Carol –

I bet I WOULD take the very jobs you say I wouldn’t. I have seen more Caucasians that are tomato pickers, housekeeprs, and butchers than not. However, my physical health would prevent me from doing so, nevermind the fact that both of my kids are disabled, and the yougest of the 2 has medical issues that dictate I remain at home to care for him.

It is agreed that there are many in Corporate America that pay zero in taxes. That’s beside the point. I have seen how immigrants (primarily illegal) refuse to speak English. I have had more than enough of them coming up to me speaking in nothing but Spanish. This isn’t the United Republic of Mexico. It’s the United States of America – learn English, use English or go home to their country of origin.

Services and such have skyrocketed – due to in large part by illegals being here with their entitlement attitudes, using hospitals here and not paying the bills.

Back to the CAHSEE, they should be able to take the ELA portion after being here 2 years. They have been in our educational system long enough by 2 years to have enough of a basic working knowledge of the language to do it.

If we are discussing disabilities, yes, I know what dyscalculia is. Math was never my strong suit either. I feel that teachers in this day and age are ‘forced’ to teach to the test, and not any time to be creative with their lesson plans for other things to teach their students. I know as I see it enough in my youngest’s school (he’s in middle school), and in the elementary school my eldest and I volunteer in. I feel bad for teachers, because you have to put up with so much.

We can agree to disagree on many things, Carol. I will leave it at that.

168. ann says:

[10/10/2010 - 7:34 pm]


169. wesley says:

[12/1/2010 - 1:08 pm]

Hey micheal i agree with you on (148)???

170. (:ROSA:) says:

[12/1/2010 - 1:16 pm]

well… besides that. i am doing research about the CAHSEE. sheri is no help with those articles. i mean, who has time to read the whole thing!?!?! i know i dont! YOU ARE NO HELP!! >:0
and second of all, whats the whole point on taking the stupid CAHSEE?? if you pass it, dont have all your credits, you still cant graduate? lastly IF you dont have all your credits and dont pass the CAHSEE, you still dont graduate?? so what the freak is the point?? its just a waste of time and paper! supposedly, you are supposed to show what you have learned on the CAHSEE, but isnt that what FINALS are for?????? DUH!!!

171. Damecia griffin says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:47 pm]

I disagree with the CAHSEE because if you dont pass the high school exit exam then basicaly you wasted four years of your life…..

172. (:ROSA:) says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:48 pm]

i 100% agree with Demecia Griffin!! :)

173. wesley (aka)lover-boy says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:49 pm]

i agree with u damecia because if you have all ur credits and if u pass the CAHSEE you still dont graduate…???

174. wesley (aka)lover-boy says:

[12/2/2010 - 1:50 pm]

my bad i mean if u dont have all ur credits

175. Joshua says:

[1/24/2011 - 9:09 pm]

I can see where you are coming from. As a high school student with a sister that is not up with the regular education stream it is very hard to take such tests. I have been skimming through some of the comments and i’m not saying i disagree with you idea of a separate test for special education tests but Todd has another great point in that such kids should not receive the same diploma. Not to be mean to these kids but like Todd said they are not learning the same things and therefore should not be given a diploma say they have completed the same requirements as main stream kids or higher. Nothing against special Ed. kids. I hope your kids are doing all right in school. :)

176. Sheri says:

[1/25/2011 - 12:21 pm]

Thanks, Joshua. My daughter is a member of the Class of 2007. Guess what she did? Not only did she graduate, she got her diploma without having to pass the CAHSEE, AND she graduated in gold.

My other child is slated to graduate in 2015. He won’t have to pass the CAHSEE, yet he will still get his diploma. Why? Because kids like him aren’t being required to pass it to get their diplomas. And that started with the Class of 2009. CDE is exempting them from this requirement and is looking into an alternative form of the CAHSEE for SpEd students, based on their modified curriculum. Granted, if this happens, SpEd students will still be getting a diploma, it will be based on what they learned.

I have a copy of a ‘press release’ of sorts that was sent to all school districts within CA, that puts school districts on notice that unless/until the CDE and State of CA Board of ED devises a SpEd CAHSEE, that school districts are to issue diplomas to SpEd students, regardless if they pass the current CASHEE or not.

177. Kelli Reyes says:

[2/13/2011 - 11:02 am]


You raise many good points about testing and I enjoy reading your thoughts about teaching. I am writing to let you know about an upcoming Blog Campaign that we would “love” for you to participate in and, hopefully, announce on your website. It takes place this Monday, Valentines Day, and it is called: “I Love Public Education Blog Day”

Everyone who cares about young people cares about our schools. Our best schools nurture our children, make them feel safe, and able to take the risks they need to in order to learn. But our schools are in danger of becoming even more narrowly focused on test preparation, while class sizes rise, and teachers are blamed for the ravages poverty inflicts on their students.

We are responding. We love our schools. We declare Valentine’s Day, 2011, to be I Love Public Education Blog Day. On this day we will write our hearts out, about why it is that public education is so important to us, our children, and our democratic society. If you or your readers will join us and tell why you love public education too, send your comments and posts to

Writing will be displayed at the website, and will be tweeted with the hashtag #LovePublicEd. We offer the march and events of July 28 to 31st in Washington, DC, as a focal point for this movement, and we ask participants to link to this event, so we can build momentum for our efforts. If your readers wish to repeat this post on their own blog, we would love it!

If this is something you can help support us on, we would greatly appreciate it. We want to build awareness of our upcoming march, and our “I Love Public Education Blog Day” is a great way to get the word out.


Kelli Reyes

178. blank says:

[2/23/2011 - 9:23 pm]

I have graduated and yet haven’t gotten a diploma.I completed all my credits but didn’t pass the English portion of the CAHSEE.I’m wondering if I should try and get a GED.I’m really frustrated because I don’t know what to do…I can’t go to college nor work because my diploma is stopping me from everything.I have taken the English portion like 5x already and I can’t pass it..Is there anyway that I could get help and get my diploma or a GED??or try to pass my English CAHSEE?

179. Anonymous says:

[3/8/2011 - 5:45 pm]

You obviously haven’t seen the CAHSEE and STAR tests if you think the STAR is a “meaningless exam” and the CAHSEE should replace it. I’m a student and I know a lot about these tests. I have a few problems with the CAHSEE:
-takes as much money to administer as the CAHSEE
-unlike the STAR, it doesn’t scale with education level (Special Education students should not have to pass the same test as Advanced Placement students)
-both are pretty easy even though the STAR scales; passing rates should be about the same, and if an honors student can’t pass the STAR test, that student shouldn’t be in honors
-both cost the state a lot of money, but the STAR is actually evaluated in ranking and funding for schools, not the CAHSEE
I see no reason why the CAHSEE should remain. The STAR does an overall better job, and anyone who says otherwise obviously hasn’t seen the two tests. It’ll save time and money if the state just uses the STAR. After all, both the CAHSEE and STAR are run by for-profit businesses.
I think that Special Education students have every right to sue.

180. Todd says:

[3/9/2011 - 12:19 am]

STAR (also known as CST) does not scale with education level. SpEd students and AP students are taking the exact same test if they are in the same grade level in English. In other words, a grade 11 SpEd kid takes the grade 11 test. A grade 11 AP student also takes the grade 11 test. A grade 11 EL student who has only been in this country for four months also takes the grade 11 test. I’m not sure why you think the test scales, but that’s not the case.

You state that “Special Education students should not have to pass the same test as Advanced Placement students.” Maybe they shouldn’t have to pass the same test, but the currently do have to pass the same test as AP students.

The CAHSEE is used to help calculate a school’s AYP and API scores. In fact, at the high school level, the AYP is almost entirely based on CAHSEE performance (check out page two of this PDF from the CDE). Those scores are used for school ranking and are related to the funding schools receive. Sorry, Anonymous, but you’re wrong here, too.

What do you think the STAR does a better job in doing? I mean, what job to you think the STAR performs? Is it the same job that the CAHSEE performs? Maybe they both do different things.

181. Raul says:

[3/9/2011 - 2:31 pm]

I am a senior and i havent passed the cahsee i just hoping that i pass it. It dosent make sence at all and it is ruining students live forever just because the score wasent enough well what i got to say about the cahsee fuck u………
WHOS WITH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

182. Anonymous says:

[3/13/2011 - 3:05 pm]

I’m not sure about English, but I know Math and Science scales with level. Every year when we take the tests, we have to fill out what grade and which science class we are in, and receive a corresponding test.
Specifically, questions like “Which object do you use to observe in the field?” and showing pictures such as a light bulb, a plugged in desktop computer, some sort of animal, and a notepad is pretty ridiculous. And the CAHSEE had a lot of ridiculous questions.
Some of the questions aren’t even easy, but they make them incredibly ridiculous. Who tells you to find “x”, and puts the right answer in “[coefficient]x = [value]”? It should be “x = [value]/[coefficient]”.

183. Todd says:

[3/13/2011 - 5:09 pm]

You receive STAR test booklets for the courses you’re taking. A sophomore taking a Biology test receives the same test as a junior taking a Biology test. There is no scale that adapts education level to course. The only bearing your education level has on the STAR is which grade-level English/Language Arts test booklet you receive. All other CSTs are based on your enrolled courses (or the highest course completed in the cases of math and science if you aren’t currently enrolled).

Until there are reasons for more students to take the STAR seriously (and the EAP is a good beginning, here, but should not be the end) and their performance on that test matters to them for some real and tangible reason, I’m going to keep calling the STAR a meaningless exam as far as students are concerned.

Both tests have lots of ridiculous questions. For English, any test item that asks about proper letter format or proper Works Cited format is ridiculous. Who cares? You can find those answers easily and don’t need to have them committed to memory. Minutia of any content area should not be the focus of a summative exam.

184. Raul says:

[3/22/2011 - 1:31 pm]

Who ever wants to pass the chasee you just need HOPE in your heart i just Hope I pass the Chasee

185. desiree says:

[3/28/2011 - 3:29 pm]

i believe the cahsee is a gud reasonable idea beacaus we teenagers are the future

186. Lisa says:

[6/4/2011 - 9:02 am]

so i have a question for a report I am doing…
Do california schools have to pay for extra CAHSEE classes?
after a student fails to pass the CAHSEE the school is required to help the student pass the next year, although the state pays for administering the CAHSEE it self, does the school have to pay for the extra CAHSEE classes?

187. Todd says:

[6/4/2011 - 1:06 pm]

Those classes that schools offer to help students pass the CAHSEE, those are classes that the school and district must allocate funds for. We aren’t given anything from the state to offset the cost of assigning a teacher to those classes.

And I’m not sure what you mean by “the state pays for administering the CAHSEE it self.” I mean, sure, schools don’t have to make copies of all the materials, but, again, schools aren’t given anything to help pay for the staff who would otherwise be doing other things during the test. The cost of all this is simply absorbed into how each school conducts business. Make sense? Let me know if you need anything else! Thanks, Lisa!

188. Lisa says:

[6/5/2011 - 4:16 pm]

no, thank you! and i will, but, you have helped me more than you know. I have referenced to the site multiple times for help on on my report. thanks again todd :)

189. Andy says:

[7/31/2011 - 6:09 am]

I was in Special Ed through all of K-12, and I passed both parts of the CAHSEE on my first try. But, let me tell you, it sure as Hell was NOT easy! I have heard Regular Ed kids brag that it was so easy, they finished it in 45 minutes. It took me 5 hours on each part! I am sick of Regular Ed kids telling me how easy it was. I busted my ass, and I’m damn proud of myself! I EARNED my diploma, and no one can take that away from me.

190. Katy says:

[10/2/2011 - 5:01 pm]

I am an English teacher and have worked with students who have attempted the CAHSEE multiple times. I worked at a continuation school last year and spent a lot of time with a 20 year-old student who still had not passed the CAHSEE (either section). He completed every worksheet, packet, and essay that I gave him, but he still didn’t pass the test by 3 or 4 points. The most challenging part was trying to keep his morale up. He had a great job at the hospital as security with benefits and good pay ($13 an hour). This student was making more than I was making at 20 years old.

It is very tough to watch students struggle through the test. These are C or D students. Some don’t care and some do and struggle through everything. If graduation was based on their GPA, than the would pass. Sadly, they might not.

I do my best as a teacher to prepare them for the CAHSEE. I have even gone as far as rewording my tests to mimic the style and format of the CAHSEE. I hope that the familiarity of the structure will make students feel more comfortable and experience less stress and testing anxiety on the day of the test.

191. AMW says:

[4/26/2012 - 9:06 am]

High school is such bullshit! The teachers always find something to bitch at you about. If you have Fs or Ds, then “Your not trying hard enough.” Yet if you have all As, like I do, then it’s “Your not being challenged enough.” What the fuck does that mean? I work my ass off to get all As, and yet instead of feeling proud of myself, I am made to feel like a lazy fuck for not wanting to take all AP classes. Do good work, and how are you rewarded? With a harder fucking class. Why even bother to be a good student?