The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
21 Points

Standardized exit exams

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/2/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,506 times Debate No: 13256
Debate Rounds (1)
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1) Test performance.

a) Not everybody performs well on tests regardless of whether they know the material or not. Some people panic, get sick, choke, etc. These tests are very intimidating to students who sometimes obsess over the results. Therefore one's performance on the rest is really not a very accurate indicator of how each individual performs.

b) A lot of students suffer from things like dyslexia or other learning disabilities which inhibit them from performing up to par on the exam. As such, these individuals may never have a fair chance at passing the exam. On the other hand, if they're given an advantage (such as longer time to complete the test), this might not be fair to the other students who are not given more time despite their own personal (sometimes undiagnosed) need. Either way, there's hardly a way to make these exams universally fair for everyone, which goes against your very own value and criterion.

2) Learning Inhibition.

a) Preparing for these exit exams usually discourages teachers and school boards from focusing on other aspects of education. There are various types of intelligence, including mathematical intelligence, linguistic intelligence, logical intelligence, creative intelligence, etc. By demanding that these tests be passed in order to graduate, you're promoting only certain aspects of knowledge which is unfair to the students and society as a whole.

b) Because people are intelligent in different ways, this test is discriminatory because it discredits those who have intelligence beyond what is examined on the exam.

3) Alternatives.

a) If one does not pass a standardized exam, but their grades and class performance show a considerable degree of knowledge in the expected fields, then a system ought to be set up where educators or administrators can offer or allow other ways for the student to demonstrate what they've learned. These can be discussed amongst administrators, school boards and teachers in each individual district and vary upon school, class or possibly even individual so long as they show sufficient skill in designated areas.

4) Usefulness/Uselessness

a) Some people need to graduate HS to accomplish goals such as entering the military or other specific fields of training. I posit that some of the knowledge required on the exams will have nothing to do with some individual's direction in life, but because they need to graduate HS in order to tend to their other options, the negation of this resolution stands in their way of success. This again seems to go against Con's value.

b) Studies show that those who are required to pass these exit exams do no better in the workforce than those who aren't required to pass these tests. As such, they don't seem to add any relative value to one's life or production in society [1].

c) While standardized tests may be useful in finding out what one knows and does not know (in terms of what they should or are expected to know), this should have nothing to do with whether or not they GRADUATE. Instead, they can be tools or guides used to determine which areas a pupil may need more help or focus in. The graduation aspect is also supported by the reality that different schools in different towns and states require different things to pass. Not all standardized tests are the same, and as such a student from a different school may also have an unfair advantage. This again does not seem to uphold Con's value.

5) Costs

a) Creating the tests, preparing for the tests, giving the tests and grading the tests all cost money. Because Con has not proven that these tests are necessary OR beneficial (or even reliable or relevant), then this cost is unnecessary and therefore an unfair tax burden.


Keep in mind that a con vote means you are FOR exit exams.

Case in favor:

1. Minimum standards

If a high school diploma is supposed to represent anything beyond having simply parked yourself in a seat for four years, it should represent basic proficiency in the English language, in terms of both reading and writing, and basic proficiency in math. Employers in particular need employees who have decent reading comprehension and writing skills, for them to be able to effectively communicate via email, for example, and who have enough math proficiency to perform basic functions, like filling out a tax form. If students do not have these skills, they should be taking remedial classes. According to the LA Times, funding for exit exams is accompanied by funding for schools to set up remedial courses in English and Math. [1] Many schools now offer such remedial courses either during the regular school week or on Saturdays. If students do not take these remedial classes in high school, it may be too late by the time they reach the job world or attend college. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, 70% of U.S. colleges offer remedial courses and 97% of public two-year colleges offered remedial education. [2] However, an 8-year study by Clifford Adelman from the National Center of Education Statistics found that it was too late for many students to benefit from remedial courses if they hadn't taken them by the time they reached college. The college graduation rate for students who had to take remedial courses was 75% lower than the graduation rate for students who did not need to attend remedial courses. [3] If students need to take remedial courses, it is better than they have to take an exit exam and attend the remedial course in high school, than that they never learn basic skills in reading and math and fail out of college or get fired from their job.

It should be noted that students are given 5 tries to pass the exit exam, at least in California. If at first they don't succeed, they can try, try again. This allows time for plenty of remedial course-work.

Remedial courses are succeeding. According to the Mercury News, "A greater portion of California students are mastering minimum English and math skills, and the biggest gains are seen among poor, Latino and African-American students, according to results of the high-school exit exam released today by the state." [4]

Because teachers feel so much pressure, especially from parents, to give high grades, if we don't have a standardized requirement for graduation, a diploma will be meaningless. According to Peter D. Hart Research Associates, "Thirty percent of American teachers say they ‘feel pressure to give higher grades than students' work deserves.'" [5] Exit exams actually empower teachers by letting them be more honest with parents. Instead of parents getting angry about low grades, when the grades are an end in themselves, when a teacher explains that the low grade means the student might fail an exit exam, this spurs the parents into action to get the student to study harder, instead of pursuing the formerly easier route of pressuring the teacher to change the grade.

The push for true educational achievement instead of just higher grades results in greater educational outcomes. According to a study by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, among the 39 countries that routinely take the International Math and Science Study, an international standardized test in math and science, countries that implemented exit exams scored significantly higher on the test than countries that did not. [6] This proves based on international comparisons that exit exams have a positive impact on a country's educational achievement.

2. It's really easy

I chose one random English questions and one random math question from the sample California HSEE to show you how easy they are.

What does the word contaminated mean in the following phrase?
But in captivity, when their keepers unknowingly were giving them leaves contaminated with acid, the koalas were left with only two options: eat the poisonous leaves or starve.
A. Carried with
B. Polished with
C. Poisoned with
D. Grown from

6. Which of the following numerical expressions results in a negative number?
A. (–7) + (–3)
B. (–3) + (7)
C. (3) + (7)
D. (3) + (–7) + (11)

In case you're double guessing yourself, the answers are: C, A

Responding to my opponent's case:

1. Test performance

My opponent claims that some people choke while taking tests. This is unfortunate because to succeed in life you will constantly be exposed to high pressure situations, such as the SAT, LSAT, MCAT, GRE if you want to attend college, law school, medical school, or graduate school, respectively, or you have to undergo a stressful round of questions during a job interview, if you instead enter the labor force directly. People need to learn to handle the stress. Removing exit exams doesn't make this high-pressure situation disappear. The ability of students to take the test 5 times if needed should also help alleviate much of the pressure.

My opponent also claims that people with disabilities suffer, but every state offers accommodations. According to the National Center On Educational Outcomes: in 2005, 61% of students got some form of accommodation on exit exams. [9] My opponent further claims that accommodations like extra time are unfair to the un-diagnosed. However, exit exams help teachers and parents ask the difficult questions if their student fails and spur the child to get tested for a learning disability.

2) Learning inhibition

My opponent claims teachers should not be teaching to the test. However, the questions are so basic that if students do not know the answers, they need to attend remedial English and Math courses. These courses do not impede on the rest of their courses. Remedial courses often help students do better in history and science, since reading and math are pre-requisite skills to these subjects.

3) Alternatives

If you show a "significant degree of knowledge" in math and English, then you'd be able to pass the test, given 5 tries. No alternative is needed, although many states do in fact offer alternatives to the exit exam.

4) Usefulness

The usefulness is in pushing students to take remedial classes before it is too late, such as when it forces them to drop out of college because college is too hard for them. Remember the study cited above that students that needed remedial classes in college were 75% more likely to drop out of college because they found it too difficult.

The employment study my opponent cites doesn't account for the fact that students without basic skills in reading and math are screened out by employers ahead of time.

Warren & Jenkins (2006) estimate that implementing an exit exam only decreases graduation rates by 2% because remedial courses are successful. [10]

And the military has a high school graduation requirement for a reason – they don't want soldiers who lack basic reading and math skills. See for example how hard it is to implement a military in Afghanistan, where most soldiers are illiterate.

5) Cost

I hope I have proven by now why the tests are necessary, and thus the cost is merited. The costs are far from high to administer exit exams.



[3] Ibid






[9] http://webcache.googleuserconten...
Debate Round No. 1
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
Pro needed to state the resolution so it wouldn't be necessary to figure it out from context.

It is practically impossible for Pro to win a one round debate, because Pro's arguments are answered and Con's arguments are not. Such was the case here.
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