High School Exit Exam, administered in 10th grade.
Students must pass this test to graduate from
high school in California.
Neighborhoods matter. Communities matter. Police and social safety nets matter. And schools control none of those things.
We stayed in lockdown for about an hour. I made small talk with some girls I’d never taught before. Complimented their outfits. Answered questions about what I teach and why they hadn’t met me. One student was visibly upset and crying. A young teacher comforted her. But most kids just sat with friends, and some listened to music or did whatever teenagers do on their phones when social media is blocked by the school firewall. After talking with the girls, I peeled and ate some mandarin oranges given to me by our school counselor. I wasn’t hungry but I ate them anyway.
Today in Watts, to normalize a morning where someone shot at someone else one block from the entrance to our school, we did our best to follow the day’s planned schedule.It's hard to imagine any of the test questions feeling all that important or relevant after spending the morning wondering if any of your friends or loved ones have been shot.
Our 11th and 12th graders hopped on buses for outings to Santa Monica Beach and a hike to the Hollywood sign.
And our 10th graders, without a single protest, walked to their assigned classrooms, to be tested silently for the next 4-7 hours.
Today was the Math portion of the California High School Exit Exam, and every 10th grade public school student in Los Angeles was tested at this very moment.
Many took the test after a good night’s sleep, a healthy breakfast and years of living in a low-stress home environment where they’ve never endured childhood trauma.
Others tested an hour after watching and hearing one human being try to kill another human being. That experience was trauma, and trauma affects cognition.
But it didn’t matter. The test must go on.