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August 15, 2006 > Appeals court upholds California high school exit exam

Appeals court upholds California high school exit exam

by JULIET WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO (AP), Aug 11 _ A state appeals court on Friday upheld California's high school exit exam, rejecting claims by a group of students who argued the exam discriminates against poor students and those who are learning English.

The panel of three judges overturned a preliminary injunction issued in May by an Alameda County Superior Court judge who blocked the exam for this year's senior class. The panel ruled that trial court "abused its discretion"in weighing the legal arguments about whether the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their lawsuit.

The appeals court intervened in the Alameda County decision after the state appealed, ensuring the exam could go ahead while the case was being heard.

A group of high school seniors is suing the state over the exam, arguing it discriminates against students who don't have access to the same quality of education as other public school students.

In San Francisco last month, state attorneys told the appeals court that the Legislature made the English and math test mandatory precisely to address inequalities in education. They said the state needed a uniform way to measure whether all students were learning California's required curriculum.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who helped write the exit exam legislation while he was a state senator, said the court's decision validates California's decade-long attempt to raise standards.

"The exit exam is a key piece of this effort, and retaining it will enable us to continue on the path of improving all schools," O'Connell said.

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