Plenty of state school systems are struggling with ways to not only keep up with national mandates and restrictions, but to boost their graduation rates so they can maintain their funding and reduce criticism from the public. California seems to have come up a rather unique, back door approach to the problem. You could always take tens of thousands of former high school students who flunked out and simply give them a diploma anyway. (Daily Caller)

The state of California is poised to award thousands of high school degrees to dropouts by passing a new law retroactively removing the requirement to pass a high school exit exam.

The California High School Exit Exam (CASHEE) was created in 2004, and is intended to make sure that students have a rudimentary grasp of English and mathematics before being awarded a high school diploma, and to counter the phenomenon of students receiving passing grades while learning almost nothing. The test is hardly complex. The math test, for instance, only covers 8th grade-level material and can be passed if students answer 55 percent of questions correctly. About 80 percent of California high schoolers take and pass it on their first try while in the 10th grade, and overall passage rates for the class of 2014 were above 97 percent.

There are concerns about standardized testing and I’m not one to turn a blind eye to them. Standardized tests have a lot of problems in general, mostly because they don’t take local priorities and community choice into account. Also, when so much is hanging in the balance, the teaches will “teach to the test” rather than trying to impart some sort of deep, comprehensive education to the students. But with that said, there’s still a bare minimum of education that kids need to absorb to qualify for a diploma. If the test is reasonable in scope and the requirements aren’t too steep, handing out sheepskins to kids who fail really just pollutes the state’s educational pool further.

Having looked over the exam, this is clearly not a college entrance test. I’m not entirely sure if it’s 8th grade math, or at least it wasn’t when I was coming up, but we’re not talking about calculus on the math section anyway. If students in 10th grade can pass it 80% of the time and they’re only asking you to get slightly more than half of the questions correct, that doesn’t seem like too heavy of a lift. In fact, it seems to me that this is more of a check to see if you actually bothered showing up for the class and managed to stay awake the majority of the time than any sort of comprehensive demand that you master all aspects of high school math.

Still, I was a bit shocked to see some of the details that I’ve forgotten over these many decades since I went to school. Some of the basics are (or at least should be) obvious to those who grasped the fundamentals. Here’s one example which I’m fairly sure everyone reading this site would nail down pretty quickly:

Test1

But then I hit this one. I’m just curious… how many of you remember the rule of how to quickly calculate the answer to this problem without having to go look it up?

Test2

I finally dredged it up and was able to do the problems in that format, but it took a little while. Then again, I did study it when Nixon was in office and I’ve never held a position where I needed that particular skill set for my job. It’s an interesting math exam and knowing how many geeks we have among the Hot Air faithful, take a look. You might enjoy it. I’m mostly wondering how many of you in the more Long in the Tooth category along with me have lost some of those math skills through lack of use over the years.