A person’s life shouldn’t be defined by the failure of one standardized test, and California Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to make sure that it isn’t.
On Friday, Brown asked Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla to amend Senate Bill 172, which would retroactively grant diplomas to California high school students who have failed the California Exit Exam but satisfied all other graduation requirements.
The amendment is a step in the right direction. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing compiled data from 2014 that showed that students from every income bracket outperformed students from the income bracket below them on the SAT, which signals that the test is a better indicator of affluence rather than intelligence. Another report from the NCFOT said young people of color disproportionately fail state or local high school exams.
“Young people of color, particularly those from low-income families, have suffered the most as the explosion of high-stakes standardized testing in U.S. public education has undermined equity and school quality,” the report said.
Standardized testing, as it stands today, doesn’t account for the myriad of factor that influence students’ exam performance. Where a student goes to school, whether their parents are native English speakers and their socioeconomic background all significantly impact standardized test scores.
Brown isn’t the first to oppose high school’s testing methods. In March, parents and students across the nation chose to opt out of standardized tests as a form of civil disobedience.
However, the bill itself, which seeks to change the test in light of changes to the California core curriculum, is even more important than the amendment. We believe that eliminating the test altogether is paramount to the continued quality of education in this state. The next 100
years of high school students is more important than the last 10. Denying citizens the right to attend college or university and earn their bachelor’s degree because of one solitary standardized test is wrong.
Proponents of standardized testing argue that it’s a fair way to adjudicate students’ progress, but teaching students to pass a test encourages a lifelong mentality of learning to achieve and forget rather than learning to further the pursuit of knowledge.
California, and the nation’s education system, should focus on improving the quality of education, not quantifying it.