Unfair CAHSEE policy creates more stress for students

Jacqueline Barr

Students become more stressed and are inconvenienced by CASHEE Testing.

Exactly one year ago, students of the Class of 2009 who passed the California High School Exit Exam eagerly awaited extra hours of sleep while sophomores from the Class of 2010, as well as notified juniors and seniors, dreaded taking the very same test.
 
When CAHSEE was introduced in 2006 by the California State Board of Education, it seemed like yet another addition to the large pile of standardized tests that every high school student must take.  However this meant only sophomores had to show up early to school and many students saw it as an opportunity to gain extra sleep during their junior and senior years. Previously, freshmen also had to come to school early. They attended several mini-sessions that included a crossing the line activity as well as relax time with Link Leaders.

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The gym is empty 5 minutes before the bell. Soon, it will be filled with students taking the Literature and Writing CASHEE exam. Photo by Jackie Barr.
Now, the CAHSEE schedule is altered where upperclassmen and freshman are forced to be  on campus for regular block schedule instead of coming to school at 11 a.m. or later while the sophomores take the test. The change is due to the Class of 2009 being almost short of meeting the quota of instructional minutes. The guidelines for what are considered instructional minutes  left the administration little wiggle room. As a result, the schedule change is an unwanted and unneeded precaution being taken.
 
CAHSEE is held in the middle of March, a time when many juniors are intensely studying for upcoming AP and SAT tests and seniors are worrying about their college acceptance letters.
 
"I think March is such a crazy month and all that time to sleep in would’ve been great and really helpful," junior Sana Chintamen said.

Furthermore, unlike STAR testing week, teachers are not required to cut down homework, tests, and the extended school day provides additional stress for Class of 2010 while last year, the Class of 2009 was spending that much needed time relaxing.

"Since we had a day off [on Mar. 16], teachers are cramming everything they can into three days instead of spreading it out," Chintamen said. "I have three tests on Friday!"

The altered schedule poses an inconvenience for Class of 2011 sophomores as well. For many sophomores, it’s not about getting to sleep in or having extra time to study. It’s about missing actual class time. While students are taking tests, instruction and class are still going on for the rest of the school.

For classes with all sophomores, this is not a problem because everyone will be in the same boat. However, for classes where there are multiple grades in the same room, there will be a big disconnect in learning if teachers do not recalibrate their lesson plans.

Elective and math classes often have multiple grades in the same class. Where sophomores are the majority, the rest of class is forced to do additional work while the sophomores are test taking. For example, there are very few upperclassmen taking Chemistry right now, but for those who are, they may be the only one in their class. Does the teacher move on? With most of the class gone they will have to reiterate what they say and on a large scale. Additionally, classes with sophomores in the minority face the same problem: to move on with curriculum or to not teach any new material. Either way will be a detriment to one of the classes.

The inconvenience caused to all classes by the new CAHSEE schedule is simply not worth the trouble it causes.

 

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