[Susan notes: Krashen definitely hits a core. We can hope that Californians are ready for advice on how to save money.]
Published in Santa Monica Daily Press
A reasonable plan for dealing with California's budget crisis is to
stop spending money where it doesn't do any good. I have three
The first is to consider eliminating the High School Exit Exam.
California spends about $250 million each year just for remedial
instruction for this exam, and millions more for administration and
Recent research done by scholars at Indiana University has shown that
state high school exit exams do not lead to more college completion,
higher employment, or higher earnings by graduates. Researchers at UC
Davis and the University of Minnesota have reported that exit exams do
not result in improved academic achievement. In fact, researchers have
yet to discover any benefits of having a High School Exit Exam.
Second, as proposed by State Sen. Loni Hancock, let's re-examine the
issue of requiring standardized testing of children in second grade,
which is not required by federal law.
Is there any evidence that this test does anybody (except test
publishers) any good? Does it supply information to teachers that is
not available in other forms? Most likely, our teachers are much
better at evaluating students than are strangers miles away, some of
whom have never spent a day in a room with 7-year-olds.
Third, stop testing fitness in schools using expensive and
time-consuming tests. California tests children in grades five, seven,
and nine using the Fitnessgram, which costs at least $300 per school
(about $3,000,000 for the entire state). The test consists of pushups,
sit-ups, and a mile run, and measures flexibility and body fat.
To get children to pass, PE must devote time to sit-ups, pushups, and
running. This is a threat to the idea that a major goal of PE is to
introduce children to a variety of sports to encourage them to become
fit for life in enjoyable ways.
There is, of course, plenty of evidence relating exercise to physical
and mental health, but none that I know of related specifically to
testing children using this tool.
If we decide to eliminate the High School Exit Exam, stop giving
high-stakes tests to second graders, and stop using the Fitnessgram,
we would save a lot of money, and save valuable time for students and
teachers. Also, these steps might inspire similar steps for additional