first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WHITTIER – Seniors who don’t fulfill the state’s requirement to pass the high school exit exam this year won’t have any other way of earning a valid diploma by the time graduation rolls around this spring, state officials said Friday.State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell says he will not recommend or support any alternative assessments to the California High School Exit Exam, which becomes a requirement for this year’s graduating class.Instead, students who don’t pass both the math and English portions of the 10th-grade level exam will be encouraged to continue their schooling, with O’Connell saying he would work to increase funding for adult education programs, summer school and independent study programs.Friday’s announcement was no surprise to Whittier-area educators like Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District Superintendent Ginger Shattuck, who supported O’Connell’s decision.“If they had a variety of high school exit exams, it’ll dilute the purpose,” Shattuck said. “If they’re going to continue to have a high school exit exam, we need to have only one.“They need to give funding to support alternative programs to help students get the skills to pass the high school exit exam, whether it be tutoring, summer school or whatever,” Shattuck added.Montebello Unified School District Superintendent Edward Velasquez said the district is prepared to follow through on the CAHSEE requirement.“Our focus is to prepare our students for college or the work force,” he added. “We work to use CAHSEE as a tool in helping to accomplish that goal.”The exam has angered some parents and lawmakers, who say it will hurt thousands of California high school seniors who have not been able to pass the test.A report in September found that one-fifth of this year’s seniors had not passed the exam by their junior year, prompting O’Connell to consider alternative assessments.Locally, at least three-quarters of this year’s seniors at the El Rancho Unified, Norwalk-La Mirada Unified and Whittier Union High school districts had passed either the math or English portions of the exam at the beginning of this school year.O’Connell took public testimony on the issue of alternative assessments for several weeks before deciding against providing alternatives to the exam.“To be clear, this does not mean, as some have said, that those students who have been unable to pass the exam will be denied a diploma indefinitely,” O’Connell said.“It simply means their basic education is not complete and they must continue on through our K-12 system, adult education or community colleges to obtain the necessary skills to warrant receipt of a diploma.”Whittier Union High School District Superintendent Sandra Thorstenson said the implementation of the exit exam “is a very passionate issue for everyone involved in secondary education because we all want every one of our students to be able to succeed and achieve their potential.”“We also understand that one of the ways we promote success is by constantly raising the bar and challenging our students to meet ever more rigorous criteria to ensure they can compete in today’s global economy,” Thorstenson said.“Our students have been preparing for the exit exam since they were freshmen. They have all taken the test and have received additional support where needed to ensure they were prepared to meet the requirements and pass the exam.“Our students who are on track to graduate will not be deterred by the results of this exam,” she said.The effect of the exit exam on special education students, who must pass the same test as their classmates, has been a particular concern among lawmakers.But O’Connell said the state Department of Education has settled a lawsuit that would have given special education students a one-year reprieve from the requirement that they pass the exam.O’Connell proposed legislation to implement the settlement that said students requesting the exemption would have to show they had taken the test at least twice since their sophomore year and at least once during their senior year.They also would be required to take remedial courses if offered by their schools.But lawmakers altered the settlement’s terms, expanding it to a two-year exemption. That prompted O’Connell to withdraw his support, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill in September.On Friday, O’Connell said he will introduce a bill within a week that is similar to the one he proposed last year to implement the legal settlement. It also would exempt special education students for one year only, he said.Staff Writer Mike Sprague and wire reports contributed to this story. [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051last_img read more