Two months before students are to take the Golden State Exams,
the State of California is looking at eliminating this year’s tests
because of budget issues.
Two months before students are to take the Golden State Exams, the State of California is looking at eliminating this year’s tests because of budget issues.

“It’s highly unlikely that any Golden State Exam will be administered,” said Paul Michelson, education program consultant with the Standards and Assessment Division of the state Department of Education. “The funding is not going to be made available, it appears. It’s not certain until the state Legislature or governor do something.”

The decision has angered some San Benito High School students. This year, for students to earn an extra grade point for honors designation, they will have to take and pass the Golden State Exam in that content area. Previously, the students were given the extra point just for being enrolled in honors classes.

“We’re all getting ready to take the test and we found out it wasn’t being offered,” said Stephanie Schranz, a junior at SBHS. “I was upset because (the school) didn’t know if there’d be another test offered for us to get the extra point.”

The Golden State Exams are given during May.

Schranz said she feels the extra point on her GPA will help her get into college. Because of scheduling conflicts, she couldn’t enroll in an advanced-placement economics class, so getting an honors designation would help her when she applies to college, she said. Also, Schranz enrolled in one of her classes to get the honors designation.

“It depends on the class you take. Sometimes you need it (the extra point), sometimes you want it,” she said.

Although schools have already registered for tests they want to administer and the state should be printing the tests, the state will not be able to foot the bill for making the test and its materials available, Michelson said. This includes paying a contractor to develop and field test the exam; score the field and actual tests; determining a criteria to set standards of what constitutes passing, honors and high honors; and printing and distributing the test, Michelson said.

In 2000, more than 1 million Golden State Exams were taken, according to the California Department of Education.

SBHS plans to give students some measure to earn the honors designation and the extra grade point, said Duane Morgan, vice principal of student services.

“We’re definitely going to have to go to the board (of trustees) and ask what direction to go,” he said. “We definitely wouldn’t let kids go out there without the extra point. We don’t want to put our kids at a disadvantage.”

The school is looking at using parts of the STAR or California High School Exit Exam or developing its own test, Morgan said.

As of now, two Golden State Exams will be offered – reading/writing and high school math, which are required by the state. These test scores are combined with California content standards, Michelson said. Also, these two tests are a high priority because California State University and University of California colleges look at these scores in the application process.

In 1996, SBHS modified its honors program in an attempt to challenge a larger group of students by offering more sections of honors classes.

Instead of having three tiers of honors classes – such as an English 9, 9A (advanced) and 9H (honors) – there are now two tiers – English 9 and 9A. Also, in 1998 the honors program switched from an enrollment-based extra grade point to one based on performance on an end-of-the-year test. The extra point makes an ‘A’ worth five points instead of four.

“Across the state, only one-third of the students who take the Golden State Exams pass them,” said Michael Robustelli, head of curriculum and instruction, about the reasoning for using the Golden State Exam to assess students. “I think it’s a good evaluation of a student’s knowledge of a certain subject matter in comparison to other top students in the state.”

For subjects that do not have a matching Golden State Exam, students must pass an in-house exam, also at the end of the school year, Robustelli said.

Robustelli said he prefers using performance-based methods to determine the ‘H’ indication for an honors class as opposed to enrollment-based methods in which a student receives an ‘H’ just for enrolling in the class.

Anzar High School does not give extra grade points for taking honors or advanced placement classes, but students will be affected if the Golden State Exams are eliminated, said principal Charlene McKowen.

“(The) GSE helps our students by allowing them to excel in areas of their own choosing, and the honors achieved go on their transcript, get included on college applications and are honored at our awards ceremonies,” she said.

Michelson said not offering the tests this spring could also affect a students’ chance of receiving a Golden State Seal Merit Diploma. Students receive the diploma if they are Golden State Scholars on six exams. A Golden State Scholar is a student who scores high honors, honors or recognition levels on the Golden State Exams.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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