California High School Proficiency Exam Bias?

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California High School Proficiency Exam Bias?

Postby SJHS » Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:16 pm

Our oldest just took this exam last month. (
One part of the exam is an essay. The essay score is combined with the English multiple choice score. If one of the scores is not high enough, then the student will not get a passing grade.
When our daughter was going to take the exam, her only concern was that the writing portion would be a subject that she couldn't identify with, as a homeschooler. Well, her concern was realized when she took the exam. She was to write an essay, pretending that she was a member of the graduation committee for her class, and she had to persuade the other members of the committee to go with her recommendation for who should speak at the graduation ceremony. Well, she knows nothing of the traditional school "class" and their committees. She re-created her essay as far as what she could remember, and gave it to me (the testers will not give us a copy of her original). She was only somewhat off topic. She "made up" a person and a college graduating class and a committee. She still wrote a persuasive essay with her recommendation for who should speak at the event, it just wasn't in the way that the traditional schooler would have done it. She is a wonderful writer, and writes all the time. Her sentence structure and such, is much better than mine! -that may not be saying much-LOL! But, really, she's good!
We received her results, and as we expected, she did very well in all areas. That is, all areas except the essay. Because they gave her such a low score on the essay, they completely disregarded the fact that she got a nearly perfect score on the multiple choice part of the English portion of the exam. Because of this, they did not allow her to pass the English portion.
We are challenging the score, but I don't know if they will cooperate. We will have her take the exam again, if need be. If not for anything else, but to prove our point.
We know that this is just another way for the public school system to try to bring down the homeschoolers in our state. The topic should be something that everyone can identify with.
Does anyone have any suggestions or have any of you had any similar experiences? What have you done, or what would you do?

Sorry this post is so long!
Thanks for any input.

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Postby Minniewannabe » Sat Jul 26, 2008 12:42 pm

Was her persuasion topic written in the form of a 3 part essay? I don't know about the test she took specifically, but in general, that's the form every essay must take in order to pass writing proficiency.

A homeschooler who has ever had to persuade her parents to let her go somewhere, shouldn't have a problem with the topic you mentioned. Although I can certainly see why she was intimidated by it if she didn't realize it was just a basic persuasion 3 part essay.

Some really good writing workbooks that will easily get one through those standardized essays are found on the School Specialty Publishing website. One is he 100+ Series Building Writing Skills, Grades 6-8 and then there's a Writing to Persuade Grades 3 -6 which will also suffice since it gives the basic format that has to be followed. Since your DD is already very good at language and writing, she wouldn't have to do the workbook pages, just read what's expected for the format.

HTH. Good luck. I'm glad you're challenging the score. I really hope that works out well for your DD.

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Postby SJHS » Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:31 pm

Thank you, Minniewannabe.
I am not sure if her essay was written in the form of a 3-part essay. I'll have to ask her. I do know that she included well thought-out ideas, and made her stance clear, but that's about all I know.
I will continue with the challenge of the score, but I will also look into the books that you mentioned, so that she will be better prepared when/if she takes the test again- or any other test, for that matter.

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Re: California High School Proficiency Exam Bias?

Postby elliemaejune » Mon Aug 18, 2008 3:03 pm

SJHS wrote:We know that this is just another way for the public school system to try to bring down the homeschoolers in our state. The topic should be something that everyone can identify with.

I understand your being upset, but I have to disagree with you that the public school system is trying to bring down the homeschoolers in your state. I say this a someone who started hsing in California in 1982 and who owned/administered a private school program for hsers for 16 years.

I would look carefully at what she wrote, compared to what the instructions were. I don't believe it's all that important that she understands how traditional schools operate, only that she writes well and that she follows the instructions *exactly.*

It would not be possible to overlook the score on another part of the test; the score is what it is: an average of the whole. If your dd did really poorly on the essay part, then that score has to be factored in.

Keep in mind that thousands of hsers take and pass the CHSPE every year.
Married to Mr. Ellie for over 30 years
Mother to 2 dds and 2 dsil
Grandmother to 1 sweet boy
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Postby Theodore » Wed Aug 20, 2008 11:12 am

The topic itself may have been difficult, but I imagine the score accurately reflects the resulting work, and having to work with essay topics you know nothing about isn't really anything new. It's all in how good you are at twisting the topic to an area you're familiar with. Since essays aren't generally checked for factual accuracy, having to make things up doesn't lose you any score.

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