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Mathematics question from the California State High School Exit Exam, administered in 10th grade. Students must pass this test to graduate from high school in California.
Mathematics question from the California State
High School Exit Exam, administered in 10th grade.
Students must pass this test to graduate from
high school in California.
Written by Maggie Terry, a high school teacher in Watts, this essay just goes to show one more way that schools are not equal in this country, and not because of teachers or personnel or anything else that we talk about for "school reform." I'm thinking that kids in Finland aren't usually tested an hour after they're put into lockdown because shots were fired near the school campus.

Neighborhoods matter. Communities matter. Police and social safety nets matter. And schools control none of those things.

http://edsource.org/...

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.

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.

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.

Originally posted to elfling's Magical Mystery Tour on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (175+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CwV, Mary Mike, gchaucer2, Amber6541, avsp, DerAmi, ExpatGirl, Kidspeak, side pocket, Yasuragi, moose67, Dartagnan, jnhobbs, raptavio, Sylv, MKinTN, implicate order, greycat, navajo, AJayne, Denise Oliver Velez, SilverWillow, LakeSuperior, marina, Dave in Northridge, Onomastic, vahana, Got a Grip, mkor7, elwior, Preston S, renzo capetti, maggiejean, RLF, poco, annieli, earicicle, Catte Nappe, begone, The Termite, bookwoman, 2thanks, Bluesee, Elizaveta, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, Thinking Fella, twigg, doroma, Sharon Wraight, nomandates, Raggedy Ann, Brecht, political mutt, Sun Tzu, Timaeus, dewtx, angry marmot, cybersaur, Free Jazz at High Noon, old wobbly, Vatexia, Statusquomustgo, Matilda, oortdust, reflectionsv37, psnyder, celdd, blueyescryinintherain, ItsaMathJoke, bastrop, One Pissed Off Liberal, dougymi, Meteor Blades, Siri, pierre9045, eeff, Nannyberry, StateOfGrace, HedwigKos, basquebob, i saw an old tree today, paulex, onionjim, where4art, Polly Syllabic, Sandino, Shockwave, edwardssl, Cadillac64, global citizen, markdd, ThatSinger, radarlady, We Shall Overcome, bleeding blue, DRo, camlbacker, Laurel in CA, JeffW, FlamingoGrrl, GeorgeXVIII, Edge PA, Steveningen, Sprinkles, Eric Nelson, spiritplumber, middleagedhousewife, gizmo59, fToRrEeEsSt, millwood, Hey338Too, Santa Susanna Kid, ColoTim, peregrine kate, Timmethy, Russ Jarmusch, jakedog42, belinda ridgewood, Knucklehead, Tool, Simplify, peptabysmal, ceebee7, ichibon, enhydra lutris, wader, bakeneko, MadMs, Desert Rose, my2petpeeves, david78209, Villanova Rhodes, Nattiq, rbird, dksbook, zerelda, devis1, peacestpete, murrayewv, AdamR510, Susan from 29, Bluefin, AnnetteK, Buckeye Nut Schell, Calamity Jean, SneakySnu, BMScott, Glen The Plumber, suzq, slowbutsure, a gilas girl, Chaddiwicker, lineatus, 1BQ, corncam, petulans, xynz, Angie in WA State, BlueMississippi, Joy of Fishes, sturunner, tapestry, Heiuan, FloridaSNMOM, Robynhood too, remembrance, SpriteSuzi, BeninSC, on the cusp, ChocolateChris, PurpleMyst, Oh Mary Oh, flowerfarmer, FarWestGirl, blue91

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:00:25 AM PDT

  •  Wow. (31+ / 0-)

    Now that is an indictment of the bureaucracy of standardized testing.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:24:04 AM PDT

  •  Kudos to YOU for being there as a calming (33+ / 0-)

    adult figure through this ordeal. Damn the testing testing testing that we have to do constantly.  And damn the NRA for not working to support reasonable gun registrations, regulations and legislation - it is turning our country into the wild wild west.  (I believe the answer is C)

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:25:59 AM PDT

  •  THIS: (23+ / 0-)
    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.
    And on the days when there are not shootings, let's get back to the basics: What about breakfast? How many of these kids are getting less to eat because SNAP & WIC and every other basic anti-poverty program is under siege? I had a hard enough time with algebra, and I always had abundant access to nutrious food as a child.

    And, of course, I had zero worries about my physical safety. Not to mention, I wasn't standardize-tested to freakin' death every five minutes. Which isn't education; it is its own form of psychic trauma.

    Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

    by earicicle on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 09:04:31 AM PDT

  •  What an absurdist collision of... (5+ / 0-)

    ...seemingly unrelated social issues.

    And so unnecessary.

    Shaking my head.

  •  The answer is C. (7+ / 0-)

    I groaned at first glance, but it's actually really easy.

    •  Thank you... (6+ / 0-)

      I was dreading having to ask that... I had no idea... here's how I spent math class most days... in the hall...

       photo 993496_10153588368990538_1693001957_n_zps17aa8c9e.jpg

      Baby, where I come from...

      by ThatSinger on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:37:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yup! I got it right! (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson, raines, lgmcp, rbird, bitpyr8, Timaeus

      I had to stare at it for a few seconds before I remembered the rules.

      1. Apply the negative to everything in the second parenthetical bit
      2. Moosh them all together
      3. The x^2 -x^2  cancels out
      4. -2x -3x = -5x
      5. 1-7 = - 6

      I did fine in math until I hit integral calculus.  I never got used to the functions there.  

      The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

      by catwho on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:44:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When I was in high school (5+ / 0-)

        All the brightest students were pressured to take Pre-calc after Algebra 2 so that they could take Calculus before going off to college. I was a B student in Geometry and Algebra, so I took Trigonometry juior year and Pre-cacl my senior year. What I noticed as a senior was that the juniors were struggling mightily with basic ideas about functions and lacked any intuition that came with working with trig functions routinely. I took Calc my freshman year in college, loved the prof and ended up being a Math major. I think pressuring all these kids to hurry their education ends up backfiring more often than not.

        Small varmints, if you will.

        by aztecraingod on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 11:39:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think my high school path was different (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          suzq, Timaeus

          I took pre-algebra in 7th grade, algebra in 8th, geometry in 9th, trig in 10th, pre-calc in 11th, and AP Calc in 12th.

          I didn't have a choice.  I got fast-tracked into the pre-algebra + high level reading cohort in 7th grade.  Ultimately I had the option to totally skip high school AP calculus, but I saw no reason not to.

          The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

          by catwho on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 01:10:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Forgive me, but I was the brightest person (0+ / 0-)

            in my high school in at least 10 years, but I skipped Calculus out of neurotic and irrational fear.  One of my big regrets!  I would have aced it all!  So many years later, I can't understand why I was afraid of it.

            Oh, I later bought some calculus textbooks and worked them.  But not enough.

            But I crapped out on the path toward science.  Instead I took the wordy path toward law--and poetry.

            FWIW, it's a constant stinging regret for me.

            •  It's nice to be blessed with intelligence... (0+ / 0-)

              but you don't have to also be blessed with hubris. I guess you and Horace "I'm a frickin' genius" should both get the most intelligent beings in the universe award.

              Ok...I'm pulling your chain a bit, but comments like this come off as pretty self-indulgent. I've usually found that those who feel the need to tell everyone how smart they are have some sort of other problem going on or their perceived supreme intelligence is only a personal fantasy.

  •  we are awash in guns (5+ / 0-)

    I have a math question.

    If there are 50 guns avg. per sq. city block, what's the chance of getting shot on the way to school?

    What's the chance of passing the test in shooting war?

    A true craftsman will meticulously construct the apparatus of his own demise.

    by onionjim on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:08:32 AM PDT

  •  America has become addicted to tests... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nattiq, rbird

    ...like a patient who becomes addicted to doctor prescribed morphine.

    Our education system is going down while other countries do increasingly better.

    Thanks to "no child left behind" test scores may improve but not knowledge.

    Thanks for a different perspective on this huge issue.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:19:12 AM PDT

  •  The Berkeley Unified School District recently (3+ / 0-)

    funded systems/measures to prevent shootings on campus - at $2 million.

    How many teachers could that support for 10 years?

    Schools are under enough financial pressure, every dollar counts - we can't afford to rob schools of these dollars.

    Thanks to the diarist for bringing this issue to light - I hadn't considered how lock downs impact certain areas differently.  

    Lock down drills, actual lock downs, the costs to mitigate/prevent the threat are putting more pressure onto already stretched school budgets.

    It adds up. But, of course, some will say, "it's just another cost to secure our freedom."

    "Looking back over a lifetime, you see that love was the answer to everything." — Ray Bradbury

    by We Shall Overcome on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:22:58 AM PDT

    •  Our local district (5+ / 0-)

      spent about a teacher's salary worth on some relatively minor security improvements, like new door locks and window coverings. It was the right thing to do and it couldn't be done for less. It will have benefits in day to day operations. But, that came out of the general fund - there was no additional money provided from any source to improve physical plant security.

      In addition, there are now lockdown drills in schools in addition to the fire drills and earthquake drills. I guess at least they don't do the duck-and-cover atomic blast drills any more.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:45:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  At least they got to see the "2nd amendment" in (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nattiq

    action...

    /snark...

    Baby, where I come from...

    by ThatSinger on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:28:41 AM PDT

  •  I'm with Diane Ravitch on this. (0+ / 0-)

    Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch
    By Valerie Strauss | January 18 at 8:45 am

    Diane Ravitch's speech  to the Modern Language Association:
     

    It became an article of faith in Washington and in state capitols, with the help of propagandistic films like “Waiting for Superman,” that if students had low scores, it must be the fault of bad teachers. Poverty, we heard again and again from people like Bill Gates, Joel Klein, and Michelle Rhee, was just an excuse for bad teachers, who should be fired without delay or due process.

    These two federal programs, which both rely heavily on standardized testing, has produced a massive demoralization of educators; an unprecedented exodus of experienced educators, who were replaced in many districts by young, inexperienced, low-wage teachers; the closure of many public schools, especially in poor and minority districts; the opening of thousands of privately managed charters; an increase in low-quality for-profit charter schools and low-quality online charter schools; a widespread attack on teachers’ due process rights and collective bargaining rights; the near-collapse of public education in urban districts like Detroit and Philadelphia, as public schools are replaced by privately managed charter schools; a burgeoning educational-industrial complex of testing corporations, charter chains, and technology companies that view public education as an emerging market. Hedge funds, entrepreneurs, and real estate investment corporations invest enthusiastically in this emerging market, encouraged by federal tax credits, lavish fees, and the prospect of huge profits from taxpayer dollars.

    Thx elfling
    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. .
    Indeed

    (X2 - 3x + 1) - (x2 + 2x + 7)

    (x2) - (x2) = 0

    (-3x) - (2x) = -5x

    (1) - (7) = 6
    ...............................
    answer C) -5x - 6

    •  To a point. I agree that teachers are extremely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heiuan

      beleaguered.  The testing regime is particularly perverse in one, particular way---

      in no way in life would we poll minors for...say...public policy.  What do they know?  They are notoriously unreliable test subjects.

      HELLO?  WE NOW TEST MINORS TO DETERMINE IF SCHOOLS ARE EFFECTIVE.

      Why don't we test criminals to see if jails are effective?

      Maybe poll the people waiting in the DMV to see if our drivers licensing system is effective?

      Poll taxpayers on the IRS!

      No...just the students.  

      Now to Common Core.  I think it's high time to have similar standards for subject matter and level of content from state to state.  It has never been proven to me that kids in Arkansas learn differently than kids in California.  

      Where there are differences--and challenges--are within the student population itself.  Kids vary in how they learn and what their capacity is to learn.  Teachers and schools need to have flexibility to adjust to those differences.

      I'm seeing it in math, bigtime.  The CC for math is very flexible and presents a variety of paths to the answer.

      I'm seeing less flexibility in reading and writing.  

      Here's where Common Core could have saved us some grief.  A few years ago, my oldest switched middle schools.  It took him 6 months to catch up to the curriculum at the new school.  I was shocked at the differences within the same district.  Imagine if we had moved out of state.  Imagine the disruption to kids who move out of state several times.  If Common Core can minimize that disruption, we would have done kids a big favor.

      •  Example for you (0+ / 0-)

        In 2011/12 school year, I had a girl transfer into my 5th grade math class from out of state just after the Christmas break.  We had already covered basic fractions and were moving on into decimals and percents.  

        Now keep in mind that we basically get back into the classroom full-time sometime in the second week of January.  Our state test takes place in the second week of April.  During the "4 months" between those dates, we have multiple days off for federal holidays, long weekends for mandatory teacher professional development on assorted Mondays, plus a week long Spring break.

        Back to my original dilemma.  This girl transfers into my class in the second week of January and will take her state test in the second week of April based on a full year's math curriculum...and the state she came in from had not yet covered fractions.  She knew basically nothing.  

        Needless to say, she absolutely struggled with trying to catch up the fractions and try to make sense of decimals and percents when she didn't know the fractions.  And I struggled to effectively run a separate curriculum just for her in order to assist her in catching up while keeping to the pacing guide for the rest of the class.

        Oh, yes...she failed the state test by a generous amount.  I couldn't condense her curriculum far enough for her and she couldn't learn enough FAST enough to put her over the hump.

        Yes, I think there are some problematic areas within CC, but I don't want another student to face this type of problem, ever again.

        “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’” — Isaac Asimov via John Cole

        by Heiuan on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 03:27:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank for this very interesting and educational (2+ / 0-)

    post.

    I've gotten off my sleep cycle, woke up late, and started reading this without my reading classes and it appeared I wasn't following you, so I clicked on the box, which apparently unchecked you because I actually was following you. Now when I try to click it back on, it seems to check mark, but not stick. So I think I just need to refresh my browser.

    This is not technical complaint which I now know should be directed to the help desk not you. I'm sure I can fix this myself, I'm just worried that if you suddenly see me unchecking your follow box even after rec'cing this post, you may mistakenly think my curious actions  will be due to some confusion on my part about what "rec'cing" means. Which is my short hand for "recommended" which is a good thing.

    It never occurred to me that it sounds like "wrecking" as in "wrecking ball" (i.e."Miley Cyrus" swinging around nude upsetting boomer-flower-children-rock-and-roll mothers who grew up in a swoon over Elvis Presley gyrating his hip threatening to bring down western civilization with the lascivious influence of pop music.)

    For example, maybe you saw that humorous comment I made a few days ago, that was nominated to a little corner of Top Comments where I described to someone that I kept telling my girlfriend "MB (Meteor Blades) justed "rec'ced" another one of my posts again."

    A few weeks ago, he mysteriously recommended 6 out of about 28 I had done in single week! I don't know how frequently MB has "rec'ced" any of your comments but in my first out of the first 8 of my 9.5 years as a registered users (not even counting a year as lurker) I don't think I received that many in total!)

    In other words, to me it was a "big &^$*&% deal, and I am not the sort of blogger who believes rhere should be any "harsh and ugly language" on the internet.

    So, anyhow, to be "brief" every time I discovered MB "rec'ced" one my posts, I'd shout out, "My God! MB just "rec'ced" another one of my posts!"

    My girlfriend was abused as a child an has severe PTSD, especially with regard big, loud men "screaming," so it is like some kind continuous-Alan-Alda-like-screen-play, comic torture that we are even together. Usually, I try to whisper as my deep voice tends to set her off and rile her up even when I'm trying to be extra friendly.

    But, these MB "rec's" were so unexpected and cool that I'd forget and couldn't contain myself. I was actually quite pleased, but she thought I was saying "wrecked" and was shouting in agony like I had just once again been verbally "assaulted" by this monsterous "MB and his angry criminal gang of internet bullies called Kossacks."  

    She already doesn't like how much time I've been spending here, but she like the fact this latest doctor prescribed experiment of writing like a manic beaver on speed has enabled me to lose 10 pounds in the last seven weeks.

    So as a "consolation" she would go out and buy us a low calorie snack. I thought this was a celebration, because that's how I was brought up to celebrate any good thing. (Did I mention I have unresolved issue about compulsive eating? Which doctors are experimenting to see if we can now offset or battle  with compulsive writing as a last resort before getting the same lapband surgery Chris Christie got to lose 100 pounds. I look just like him actually. Please don't tell the Christiegate Post people I could be his twin brother - or it might start rumors I have other issues too!)

    Anyhow, to keep this brief, finally on the sixth time I exclaimed "I can't believe it MB just "wrecked another one of my posts," this time so excited I actually jumped up on our massive super king size thermopedic mattress we have set up in a guest bedroom where I do my work, and have lots of TVs and extra computer screens set up. (My girl friend has severe OCD and demands I turn them off in  our regular formal "adult"  Master bedroom and have squabbling about it I fled to this second bedroom and she followed me, but I set up the "rule" that I get to be the boss of the televisions. (this doesn't work but it give me a little bit more of a chance - like 20% - 80% -- we have other issues as well.)

    Anyhow, so when I jumped up and said MB wrecked another one of my posts, she finally couldn't take it anymore and screamed, "Why do you keep going back there, if this MB guys keeps picking on you!"

    That's when I realized she thought I was saying "wrecked" and I had never explained "rec'ced"

    The way this is right "on topic" is without my glasses all this confusion about whether I've unchecked your "follow" heart has me worried, that if I've unchecked and you see me not following you any more, even after "rec'cing" your post, you might think I didn't like your post and either rec'd it by mistake, or maybe worse, had a stroke, or became senile and now even I think "rec'cing" is a bad thing and I've come in her to "wreck" the place up.

    Which I hope you know me well enough by now to know I would never do elfling, as you are one of my favorite people.

    But, now I'm stuck. I can't just quite this comment and go check because I also have "hoarding anxiety" and just wasting all there letters and electrons storing up this comment would distress me to much.

    But, if I don't post this, this comment may become so long, it could become a potential example of a new kind of trolling - comments so obscenely long, no one else has any space to make other comments.

    So, what do I do? What do I do? (Did I mention I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder as well?) Am out of Xanax, my girlfriend is screaming that the neighbors have been doing loud things in their house since 7:00 am in the morning and she thinks I should report them to the zoning commission. (which isn't even the right place. We live in the wealthiest suburb in New England with two acre zoning, (to prevent Boston poverty from 'emerging' to this rural farming area which is now filled with mega mansions.) This neighbor is about 300 feet away behind three rows of hedges and trees and his best friends with the mayor. If I complained I'd be laughed out of town!!!)

    Anyway, sorry, elfling, I'm having a bad day, and these are the kinds of things I really worry about. All I really wanted to do is say "Thanks for the great post!"  and look at the pickle I'm in now. I think I will just go back to bed and try again tomorrow.

    Please do not become alarmed if you see me checking and un-checking you follow box, for a little while, it will probably just mean that enough of my girlfriends OCD has rubbed off on me, (which it has been doing) and I'm doing experiments so I can write a "really long email" to the help desk about a potential really bad problem with the heart box clicker that is soooo bad, it is undermining the reputations of ...."some of " of ..."notable aspiring writers" and making them look like goofballs.

    I will be a follower of yours forever, one we get these terrible technical issues fixed. But, first I have to find a third mattress and move to a third bedroom because now my girlfriend is crying that I like my computer more than I like here, and something I can't even understand and doesn't even make sense.

    Just be glad you are not me elfling. You can always remind youself of that no matter how bad it gets. Cheers.    

    "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

    by HoundDog on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:42:44 AM PDT

    •  Correction: In the third paragraph, I meant to (0+ / 0-)

      make a note about the same baby boomer mothers who like to get their own mothers "in a stew" about Elvis bringing down
      Western Civilization" are now in a Stew about Miley Cyrus.

      Actually, it may have been their Grandmother's as they are only old enough to have been dancing to Madonna.

      I saw this show on Doctor Drew where about 8 professional mothers were all lamenting how terrible it was that young woman singers were having a bad influence on young people through pop music, which I was trying to make a humorous reference to.

      I guess that previous comment should have had a (humor alert tag on it.)

       

      "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

      by HoundDog on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:55:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that was fun, thanks (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, Sharon Wraight

      I checked, unchecked, checked, unchecked... feel much better

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