In 2002, 51 percent of entering freshmen were proficient in English; 63 percent were proficient in math. Those who aren't proficient are placed in remedial classes -- a huge drain on the California State University budget. When more freshmen are actually ready for college, there is more money for CSU to spend on real college classes.
As an aside, let me stipulate that the California Department of Education should work to eliminate redundancies and reduce the hours of test giving. An education official recently told me that experts are looking into reducing the number of essays in the English Language Arts portion of the exit exam, so that there's less of a "fatigue factor" from reading writing sample after writing sample. There's also talk of reducing the number of word problems in the math portion.
In a recent Chronicle story, some students told reporter Meredith May that they put in minimal effort -- some just fill in bubbles -- on achievement tests because they don't get anything out of it. If they didn't get a grade or the OK to graduate, they didn't care.
It's too bad that in the course of their education, these students and their parents never figured out that students should take the tests because they owe something in return for their free education; when they take the test, they help students who follow them. As for those parents who think that their children's time is so precious it shouldn't be spent on testing, in a vocabulary test, the word you'd check off for them is "clueless."