High Failure Rate on Health Challenge Exam Prompts Questions

Staff writer, Kelly Nakashima investigates the plummeting passing rates on the Health Challenge Exam.

By Kelly Nakashima (Previous Staff Writer) on Wednesday January 30, 2013

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By Kelly Nakashima | Staff Writerscoreboard

January 30, 2013

The results of the biannual Health Challenge Exam have been revealed from last November’s test: an unprecedented zero out of 42 students passed with the required score equivalent to a letter grade of A or B.

Since then, the exam has been widely discussed among Dos Pueblos students, parents, faculty and administration, raising questions of fairness and necessity—among others—for one hotly contested debate.

There is a long history to the Health Challenge exam at Dos Pueblos, and many of its changes have occurred gradually, something that the passing rate has also reflected—until now.

Starting off sky-high at 81% in 2008 and dropping towards 51% by 2011, it took a nosedive in 2012 with a total 5% of students passing the tests issued in March and November.

The question for many is: what is the source of this change? More importantly: what can we do about it?

English teacher of 23 years and parent to a future Charger, Todd Borden, weighs in on the “nagging disquiet” he experienced upon learning the results of the most recent Health Challenge exam.

In his experience, he states, at least some portion of the students who take the exam always pass.

As a teacher, his main concern lies with Dos Pueblos’s tradition of highly impressive students and their seemingly incongruous lack of knowledge regarding the health curriculum.

If the questions presented on the Health Challenge are all that similar to that of the course’s final exam, Borden argues, then “it seems to me that an alarmingly few students will pass this test as their final exam.”

According to Assistant Principal, Monica Hammonds, however, the Health Challenge has had a long history of winners, and in most cases, the fight was definitely in the students’ favor.

Yet over time, success has gradually tipped the scale towards excess, says Hammonds, and now it’s time for a change.

She recalls the decade-old Health Challenge exam as inaccurate and outdated, almost to the point of condoning the use of cigarettes.

Following the institution of a state-issued health framework, the health curriculum has shifted its focus in recent years from common sense to scientific credence, resulting in a course that is “much more rigorous…topical…current…and much more factual.”

This change, Hammonds states, is something that the test needs to reflect, especially in an ever-changing field such as health.

The rapid, constant influx of new information is what makes both the tasks of maintaining a health textbook and an up-to-date curriculum seemingly incompatible, and even more so in the digital age.

As a result, keeping the teachers up to date and on the same page with the material is a formidable challenge, one that moves slowly—and bureaucratically.

“Let’s just say, it’s been a 19-year process,” says Hammonds, a former health teacher at San Marcos High School, who also served as head of the district’s health department 10 years ago.

Now, as an administrator, she meets quarterly with the district’s health teachers to complete statistical item analysis on the most recent test questions before discarding those deemed “statistically questionable.”

What follows is a painstaking process of writing, rewriting, debating and determining new test questions.

Those questions, Hammonds says, are added to a growing bank—500 and counting—generated randomly by a computer, and constitute all health class final exams district-wide.

There is a growing—and not unfounded—concern among students and parents that allowing a committee of current and former health teachers to write the test may result in an unfair bias.

A Dos Pueblos parent, whose son—an AP student—attempted the Health Challenge twice and fell short by two questions, has been particularly frustrated and perplexed by what she sees as a lack of consideration for a student’s academic rigor.

“When 32 percent of the kids at any given time are getting D’s and F’s,” she wonders, “why can’t they reward our kids for working hard? It all seems a little questionable.”

Now that her oldest son is a senior, he has no option but to take zero period health during spring semester, but that doesn’t stop her from pressing the issue on behalf of her younger son.

“What is interesting is that each [student] that I know of was told he didn’t pass, but not one received a look at the health test and how many answers were incorrect.”

She adds: “There is obviously something strange about the test and it seems—in my opinion—that they are intentionally trying to fail the smarter kids.”

For Ms. Hammonds, however, it is important that parents and students remember that the Health Challenge is neither a test of intelligence nor common sense, though it certainly used to be.

That “easy, old, outdated, ridiculous test,” she says, is where the true injustice lies.

“It just gave a golden ticket to so many students for so long,” she continues, “and yeah, it hurts when those things get taken away…but it’s just not right, it had to change.”

Based on surveys given to the students who take the test, most of them study between 6 and 12 hours, a ridiculously small amount of preparation, according to Hammonds.

“You’re not going to pass a semester-long class studying for 6 hours,” she points out. “That would be wrong. So [taking the test] is really just the reality of what it means to earn 5 units.”

That reality, says Hammonds, means setting aside the same 80 hours of preparation for the exam as is required to complete the class itself.

Yet for many disheartened students, time—or lack thereof—is a main reason for trying to opt out of health in the first place.

Janelle Nguyen, a senior AP student and varsity swimmer, is relieved that she passed the Health Challenge exam as a freshman, given that her schedule has become increasingly busy with each passing year.

“For some kids, it’s hard to find time,” she reveals. “We want to stack up on our academics and we want to take [classes] we like.”
Health, she adds, “is just another burden.”

While Nguyen prepared for the exam by reading through a library textbook for a couple of hours, she admits that she “wasn’t too stressed” and “used common sense” but knows “a lot of a people who actually spent a lot of time studying.”

Ms. Hammonds has voiced a strong sympathy for students and parents who approach her with their concerns regarding college admissions and academic schedules.

At the same time, she maintains, she cannot justify a pass for students whom she believes have not put in the appropriate amount of work.

“I believe that the new test accurately reflects the curriculum in the class,” Hammonds states. “It reflects what we’re teaching district-wide, [and] it’s forcing all the teachers to get on the same page and work together.”

Since the elimination of the seven-period school day, Hammonds says, Health is no longer a part of the 7th grade curriculum.

It’s one of the reasons that Kristi Anderson left La Colina Junior High three years ago to join Dos Pueblos faculty as a Health teacher.

Many Dos Pueblos upperclassmen, such as senior Avery Hardy, were subject to the former 7th grade health requirement.

As a result, Hardy considers the high school health course little more than a repetition of what was covered in junior high.

“As an IB student, I do want my academic record to reflect someone who takes challenging courses,” she states. “If they were offered at Dos Pueblos, I would definitely be interested in taking a college-level health course.”

In addition to her own interest, Hardy believes that her fellow students would respond well to such a course by “help[ing] them feel like they have more than one option, even if they don’t pass the test.”

While the College Board has yet to develop an Advanced Placement health course, and the road to an Honors health class is paved with barriers, Hammonds believes that “we just haven’t found a way to get it to fit in perfectly.”

At the same time, a new generation of Chargers is sweeping in.

Many of them have never taken a health course before, thanks to the new state standards.

As a result, they seem to lack the urgency of their upperclassmen in regards to the results of the Health Challenge exam.

Could it be that this hot-button issue represents a period of generational transition that may pass quickly out of future discussions?

Only time will tell whether that is the case.

For now, the current Health Challenge exam is a work-in-progress: “We’re closer than we’ve ever been,” declares Hammonds, “but we’re just not quite there yet.”

Kelly Nakashima (12)

Kelly Nakashima is a senior at DP and an independent study writer for The Charger Account.
Previous Staff Writer - knakashima13@thechargeraccount.org

There are 23 comments on High Failure Rate on Health Challenge Exam Prompts Questions:

Maggie Miller on January 31, 2013 at 3:54 PM PDT

I am a student at Dos Pueblos and currently a freshman. I am looking forward to taking rigorous classes and doing the IB program. I am a person who likes having things planned out, so I made my four-year plan. Within my plan, I have to have health somewhere, but I want to do so many other things that it is hard to know where it will go. Like Nguyen says, "it's hard to find time" to do Health and it is "just another burden." I believe that the Heath class has some good aspects to it that everyone should know. For example, heath talks about how certain diseases are caused and how badly drugs can affect you. I think that everyone should be aware of these things, yet these things don't have to be explained in one whole semester. In 7th grade, my teacher touched upon certain things that would fall under the health category, but only for a week or so. Even though she briefly touched on some things, I still learned from it and value what I learned. I believe that within Life Sciences (Biology, Physics, Chemistry), the teachers could combine some aspects of health so that we take the valuable things from the Health curriculum.

Caroline Gay on January 31, 2013 at 4:03 PM PDT

I was one of the last eight people to pass the health test after the administration "cracked down" on the exam (I took it in the spring of 2012). I was extremely lucky to even pass then--I only passed by a few questions--and this is why. Through my experience from the "new" health test, I can testify that a vast number of the questions on the test are incredibly ambiguous and unjustifiably irrelevant. Ms. Hammonds assures us that a board throws out "statistically questionable" test questions, i.e. unfair or so-called "impossible" questions. But if this board is completely reasonable with what constitutes statistically questionable, they would find it necessary to remove such a large percentage of the test that it would have to be rendered an invalid test. It is safe to assume that enough of these unfair questions stay and count in students' exam scores. Now, I studied long and hard for that test. I am confident that any more preparation or memorizing of facts would not have gotten me a higher score. The administration claims that the reason no one passed the exam was because they studied for 12 hours instead of taking the class. In order for this to be a completely fair justification for changing the test, I think every semester ALL students taking the health course need to take the same EXACT test (with no hints or study guide being given to them prior). The non-curved pass rate of students having taken the class needs to be released alongside the pass rate for those attempting to bypass the class. In fact, I challenge the school to do this and prove me wrong. If I'm proved wrong I will accept the justification and go on my merry way. But, from how I've seen it, enough of the health test is irrelevant that I doubt the class would even adequately prepare students for these questions. (Last note: I assume the board determines "statistically questionable" based on the amount of people who got the question right. How can this be fair if no one passes the exam anyway? The board must say that because of the record drastic exam scores, now a more drastic number of people need to miss a question in order for it to be thrown out. In this case, the definition for "questionable" would be lowered in accordance with the lowering of test scores, necessitating a very low percent to get the question right for it to be deemed "questionable". But statistically speaking, even on an A-E multiple choice test, even 20% of guessers WILL still get that question right.)

kaylie grant on January 31, 2013 at 5:36 PM PDT

i feel like the fact that no one passed the challenge exam is helping the argument that the test is too hard. the test exists to give students a chance to learn at their own pace on their own time, and a chance to take other electives or do other things that they find fun instead of sitting in a class that they are required to take. but i dont understand why they would give someone false hope that they would get to take the exam and free up their schedule if no one passes, because then all the time they spent stuyding for the challenge exam has been wasted.

Aniela Bordofsky on January 31, 2013 at 8:42 PM PDT

My opinion on this issue is that the test should be relatively difficult but not unpassably so. I think that it should be difficult because if some of us are having to take a full semester long class then you shouldn't be able to just take an easy way out of it. The information taught in this course is useful and I think that the things we are learning in this class really are basic things that people should know. I took the Freshman Seminar class first semester and now im taking health and even though these are neither of the electives i sighned up for im glad that im getting this out of the way unlike so many of my other classmates because in the long run I do want to be able to take my choice of elective. Also I think that people taking the class should not be failed because the final is the same as the challenge exam. The challenge exam should be harder than the final because you are pretty much trying to prove that you have the knowledge that is usually being taught over a five month time span. So I think that a good solution to this would be to make the test a little bit easier but still be difficult because you are taking the easy route out of this situation and not having to spend a whole semester devoting your time to taking this course.

Nathan Bornfreund on January 31, 2013 at 9:05 PM PDT

Kelly Nakashima does a very good job of taking neither side in her article. Her article clearly states the problems from the perspectives on both sides of the issue. I disagree with Assistant Principal Hammond that in order to pass the Challenge Exam for health, one must study for 80 hours. In effect, one must study for an absurdly long time to test out of a class, which my friends tell me is a relatively easy class whose final (the Challenge Exam) doesn't even count for a grade! Health is unnecessary and a waste of time better spent with classes that will actually help you get into college, unless, as one student whom Nakashima interviews, Health is offered a college-level course. However, Nakashima's portrayal of Assistant Principal Hammond's side of the argument does show that Mrs. Hammond is worried that too many students are passing an entire course without actually putting any effort into studying for the exam. But I, as a student, do worry about my odds at passing this exam now.

Margaux Shraiman on January 31, 2013 at 10:14 PM PDT

I seems like the test is just a way to force to take the class by providing them with an automatic fail. Why an automatic fail? because the questions are designed to be impossible. As Caroline Gay said before, we should compare the results of students currently taking the class to the results of the test takers. But I would even take it a step further: I challenge the health teachers to take the test. If they are unable to complete the test with 100% accuracy, then it is only right that the test be modified and simplified to match the actual health curriculum. According to all the students that have taken the test recently, the questions are unreasonable and borderline impossible to answer without complete medical files and charts in front of you. Statistics are not what will help you expand your knowledge of "health" as much as measures of prevention and useful facts about the human body. Memorizing numbers will NOT help you make better life choices regarding your body (which is what I assume is the ultimate goal of the class). It seems as though the administration is waging war against the student body by making the health test practically impossible to pass. Although I understand the test may need to be updated to eep up with modern science, students should not be expected to know things NOT provided or taught in the health classroom.

Shannon Gerow on February 1, 2013 at 9:46 AM PDT

When no one can pass the health exam THERE IS A PROBLEM. The test should reflect on the material in the Health text book, which as a senior, has not changed in years. The fact is that health as a class is an easy A, this may be unacceptable to teachers and administers but it's true. Having taken Health I learned nothing that I didn't learn later in Biology in a much more in depth and and frankly better class. In years past there was always a number of students that passed the Health exam, there always should be. I will now echo the previous comment and say, lets have the health teachers take the exam, they may pass but then again they may not, however the class must replicate the exam to represent a fair test that reflects the learning objectives, no more no less.

Alice Wissing on February 1, 2013 at 2:27 PM PDT

A lot of administrators and teachers seem to think low scores are synonymous with good tests, and that rigorous means memorizing a bunch of facts. Since when did intelligence and common sense become ridiculous and outdated? I hope the revamping of the test is not a current trend in education at Dos Pueblos but rather a reflection of a department concerned about job security.

Iris Lee on February 1, 2013 at 6:13 PM PDT

As a student who took a health course in seventh grade as apart of a tech, art, and health wheel, I found the class rather unnecessary; and if the health class at DP is a basically a repeat of that class, who knows how long I'll put it off. The class basically taught things that you would know or, as Nakashima mentions, based on "common sense." Yes, it may be helpful and beneficial to people, but many times, according to my classmates, it is neither of these and, really, a waste of time. What is even more perplexing is the fact that the health course, itself, doesn't have a final exam at the end of the semester. How can students be expected to take a challenge exam to bypass the class if students currently engaged in the class aren't expected to do the same? In addition, if a student were to score less than the limit applied to the challenge exam (an A or B) on the final exam they receive credit for the course, but those who score the same on the challenge exam do not. The challenge exam also should not be any more difficult than the final exam. If the point is to just see if the student knows enough of the information provided in the course to be able to get out of it, then it should have been easy since many people say the class is an "easy A." Likewise, the challenge exam should not be MADE harder than the final exam, or "impossible" to pass. Its almost as if this is done to prevent anyone from passing and, as a result, take the class. I remember hearing all throughout my school years the reoccurring idea of ensuring success for every student. If so, why does this situation seem to be the antithesis of that idea? Furthermore, I believe the amount of time a student spends studying for the challenge exam should not have a "reasonable number of hours." Every student is different; they know whatever it is that works the best for them and will allow them to succeed-and if they believe health class is unnecessary and are willing to work hard to get out of it, then we should support it any way we can.

Natalie Baur on February 2, 2013 at 4:59 PM PDT

I believe that this health test is extremely unfair. I don’t like the idea that you could take a test to get out of the class but if you actually take the class and don’t pass the test it still counts. I am in the engineering academy and that takes up my schedule space for an elective, and I want to be able to play a sport as well. My only option is to take a zero period which since I’m already staying up till ten each night to finish homework does not really appeal to me. I know they offer it as a city college class over the summer but my family goes away over the whole summer. I would have to make my entire family not go on vacation just because of a health class. I feel like a great alternative is that they would allow us to take an online health course. It would be one semester long and you could do it on your own time, for some reason it is not allowed. I feel that the administration needs to come up with some better solutions to this problem. I hope that this debate will be settled soon and can come to a fair solution for all students.

Sarah Rasmussen on February 3, 2013 at 11:46 AM PDT

Being a DP charger, I am going to eventually have to take health in order to get my diploma. I have no issues with taking the class and have actually heard from a number of people that it's an easy going class and a good class to take. However I have also heard that almost all the information covered is stuff that we already know and that it's a waste of time, but I personally don't think there's anything wrong with review and that something you didn't know may be covered in that class. The biggest problem for me though is that I don't have time in my schedule to take it, so my only other alternative is to take the challenge exam. What I don't think is fair though is that the exam to pass out of the class is harder than the actual class itself, and it's final; and that students who take the class and score lower on the final than the students who just take the exam to pass out, still get credit for taking the class! Shouldn't both the tests be somewhat similar? Because finals are intended to show if a student has learned the required amount of material over a certain period of time from a certain class. Well shouldn't the same hold true for the challenge exam? If a student were to get 100% on the exam clearly he/she would know all the material that would be taught in the class. So why put questions not pertinent to the subject; or questions that wouldn't be covered in taking the class, when like I said earlier I've heard from many people that health is a really easy class. I'm not saying that the challenge exam should be as easy as the final because if you are trying to pass out of a class then I think you should have have harder questions to show that you really do have a vast knowledge in whatever you're studying; but if you know the material I think you should be treated fairly and not have to waste your time learning things you already know. Again I don't have any issues with the health class itself, but I think that students who already know the material should be allowed to take a test with questions only based on material from the course, because for some students there just isn't enough time in the school day to take this many classes.

Garrett Carlson on February 3, 2013 at 3:14 PM PDT

In my honest opinion, as a student who has already taken Health, I believe that the test should only take about 5 to 6 hours to study for. I believe this because when I was in Health class I did not study for any of the tests, or pay much attention in class, but the class was still an easy A. At the end of the semester our class did not even take a final exam. I don’t think that it was really necessary for everyone to take the class, because all of the questions on the test were just common sense for me, and I could have taken a class that was more interesting and relevant to my needs. I think that the test should be a combination of all 6 of the unit tests that we had, and it should take questions word for word from those tests.

Delour Haj on February 3, 2013 at 7:15 PM PDT

This was a very well written article, and I appreciate that Kelly Nakashima took the time to write about the issue of the health exam. I was extremely surprised when I heard that no one had passed the health challenge exam in November. This seemed absurd to me, as I know multiple students who took it a few years ago and passed it just fine, and told me it was easy. I was planning to take the exam myself, but later in the year, however now that I have read this article, and seen the results of the previous exam, I am extremely hesitant to. I feel very angry that they have made this exam so difficult that no student was able to pass this year. I feel that this is extremely unfair, for those students who put in their time and effort to try to pass it. It doesn't seem right to make an exam and tell students that they can take it, but make it so difficult that they can't pass it. What is the point of having an "unpassable exam?" I understand that the curriculum has changed, and that the test should reflect that, but I have heard of multiple people who read the entire health textbook twice, took the exam, and said that there were questions on it that weren't even discussed about in the textbook itself. Where is the fairness in that? I completely support the idea of having teachers take our health exam, and see their reaction to it, and see if they think it is a fair test based on wat they teach. They need to make an exam which is passable for those who don't have the time, or simply don't want to take health for a semester. I feel that if students take the time to study and try to do well on this exam, so they can free up their schedules and take classes that they want, they should be able to pass this exam. I am looking forward to taking as many elective classes as possible that are offered at Dos Pueblos, and I don't like that I know have to worry about taking health for a semester, and crowding up my schedule. I can think of many other enriching classes that I would rather like to take than health, but if the exam continues to be this difficult, can't. It seems now as if the school and administration is going against the students, and making our school lives even more difficult. I understand that the test needed to be changed, but making it impossible to pass may be too great of a change. If nobody can pass a test, I think that should be a red flag to the everyone that there is something wrong with this test. I hope that soon, there will be a change in the exam, so people can have a chance to pass it.

Danielle Dubian on February 3, 2013 at 8:54 PM PDT

Before I begin this personal and opinionated response about the challenging health exam and its program, I would just like to say that this is an incredibly written article. Kelly, you did a fantastic job covering everything. From the first capitalization to the last punctuation, well done! Now, as a former student who has luckily passed the Health Exam when it was "easier" and "less serious" (as if taking an hour or so long exam is a joke), I can say that I have studied days for that test but no where near 80 hours. There are certain points I'd like to comment on, focusing towards those who have created the test and the Health program in general. The current health exam that has everyone failing is completely unfair. How can you justify even fitting 80 hours of studying into one exam? Some high school students don't even have the memory to remember what they had for breakfast! Moreover, changing and creating an exam with questions that students dub as having nothing to do with the textbook is uncalled for and nearly impossible for students to pass without guessing on many of the questions. Therefore, there should be two options for a challenging test such as this one: get rid of it all together or make it less challenging as it already is. As someone who has friends who have taken the health exam, failed, and are now taking the class, it is as Janelle describes "a burden" and a complete waste of their time as well as unfavorable on their transcripts. That being said, my beliefs are as follows: Health should not be a required class in high school. Let's face it folks - society is corrupt. The media is promoting sex (and being safe about it) and the dangers of STD's almost if not nearly as much as a Health textbook with shows like Teen Mom or 16 and Pregnant. And a huge trending topic in the US is obesity and staying fit. Is this not enough to show our kids what the basics of Health is? When am I ever going to need to know the statistics of how many people in the world are not getting their daily vitamins and minerals? In the US, there are more important things to be teaching children and teenagers and a semester of something a parent can be teaching is a waste of a class entirely.

Siena Applebaum on February 3, 2013 at 8:56 PM PDT

I support having a health challenge exam which is comparable to the final exam and the material taught in the health course. In addition to the excellent points made by Iris Lee and others, I believe that the high percentage of students who have passed the health challenge exam in the past is a good sign. Of course many of the students should pass. The topics covered in health class are topics that many students have been learning about since the fourth grade. We have been taught through programs such as D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) which visited elementary schools, Sex Ed presentations, or even through 7th grade health classes. Educators should not penalize students who have learned this material but be proud that prior education has made many of the test questions “common sense”. Also, I think it is fair to assume that the majority of students who take the Health Challenge exam are intelligent students who need to free up some time in their schedules. Perhaps 51% to 81% of students passing isn’t a sign of the inadequacy of the test, but a reflection of the intelligent, scholarly students who take school seriously. This passing rate is something the school board should have been proud of. The subjects covered in health are important topics that affect everyday life and the choices students make. While it should be available for students who haven’t already mastered the material, it shouldn’t be forced on those who have. There is a need for an exam that is rigorous enough so that not everyone can pass it, while being reasonable enough so that the people who understand the subjects taught in health class can pass.

Chris Le on February 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM PDT

I feel like the course favors those who are willing to take it as opposed to those who would rather pursue other courses instead of health. The extreme difficulty of the test is basically forcing everybody to take the course because nobody can test out of it. As for the students taking the class, if they do not pass the final exam, they shouldn't be able to get credits for taking it just because they were enrolled in the class for the semester. I can see how the test makers are trying to make it fair, but if the test includes material that wasn't covered in the course, it isn't really fair for anybody. I know that the old health test was a little too easy, but they need to realize that this test is absurdly hard. The option of a zero period is available, yet most high schoolers already suffer from sleep deprivation which can only further be enlarged. This will only lead to more anxiety of stress because we are forced to take this class instead of classes that may be more interesting, engaging and useful in the long run. Overall, those who want to take the health course should be able to, but those who don't should be able to take a reasonably challenging test that is passable.

Jade Day on February 4, 2013 at 12:31 AM PDT

I believe that health class should be in Junior High school because students have many other classes and after school activities to worry about in High School. In my own experience I’ve taken health in sixth grade in Florida and in seventh grade at Goleta Valley. Both schools had the exact same health textbooks with the red design of the spine of the book and the group of healthy looking kids on the front and back of the book. The brief glances of the health textbook that I’ve seen at DP seem to be the same as the other two schools and all the things that they taught me in both schools were very similar. I feel that when I take the health class it will be another repeat or obstacle than a requirement to graduate. I think a good resolution for taking care of the Health class issue would be making it an online course. It will be more convenient for people and it wouldn’t drastically cut into their busy schedules because it could be accessed where internet is available. Everyone these days has a computer or some type of mobile device that can get internet access. There would be more resources to reference and it will solve the textbook currency problem without costing too much. Teachers could still be available to answer questions online and they would be able to update the facts as new information becomes available. If the course is online it also allows students to access the course anytime they have availability, even during summer. Having an online course would be cheaper and a teacher would also be able to keep track of the progress. The final test would then be able to be taken at the end of the course at school to be submitted for a grade.

Sam Majewski on February 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM PDT

I believe the test and the challenge exam should be the exact same thing because they both serve the same purpose as a way of showing how much of the health curriculum someone knows. Having an extraordinarily difficult health challenge exam puts many students in a tough scheduling position having to forgo an important elective or sport. Should one have to give up band or track or some other activity for health class? Offering an online course could help, but no students benefit from have an impassable challenge exam; not the students enrolled or the students taking an unfair exam.

Noel Garcia on February 4, 2013 at 7:10 PM PDT

Being a current freshman at Dos Pueblos High School and finding out I have to take Health as a class for a semester causes me to look deeper into the controversial topics the class creates. I believe the class is somewhat important to take but I think the class shouldn't be an entire semester. The class can most likely be taught more briefly rather than taking up an entire class period for a semester. If not, Health should be taught with other Life Science classes that way it doesn't take up a semester.

Franziska Barthel on February 5, 2013 at 1:06 PM PDT

I completely agree with Kelly Nakashima when she claims that the Health test is intentionally failing the smarter kids that are simply trying to get ahead. What I don't understand is, why would they offer an opportunity for students to eliminate a class yet still receive the credit needed, but make this opportunity virtually impossible to obtain. I myself was planning on taking the test this year as a freshman, but the statistics of how many students actually pass made me not even really want to take the time to try. I believe that there should be a Health class, and an opportunity to test out but I do not believe it should be as challenging as it is now.

Heather Cano on February 6, 2013 at 5:41 PM PDT

I am currently a freshman at Dos Pueblos, and in my first semester, I did take Health. The class was an easy A for me, although, it seemed a bit unnecessary. I believe that the level of difficulty for the actual class, should be the same for the Challenge Exam. Why wouldn't they compare? During the class, we rarely went to the textbook to actually study. Almost everything came from articles, worksheets, etc. Which, I'll be fair, is true with a several of my classes, but for Health, it seems unreasonable since most students will buy/borrow a Health text book in order to study for the Challenge. I, personally, think that something is wrong if no one passes the exam in the county.

A Parent on February 7, 2013 at 9:07 AM PDT

Follow the money. This is about protecting the jobs of the district's health teachers...just like making it overly difficult to take Independent PE is about protecting the jobs of PE teachers.

Ranting student on February 7, 2013 at 3:13 PM PDT

From a logical standpoint, the revamped health exam makes absolutely no sense. It not only hogs up students’ schedules, but it also hogs up school funding and indirectly lowers the performance of the whole student body. It is clearly an issue of job security, and it is now an officially un-passable test. It doesn’t test the curriculum that high-school students learn, and it’s become a game of trivia. If we look to Jr. High schools, health has now been eliminated as a subject entirely. Old health curriculum is now taught in Jr. High science courses, allowing for students to pick other electives to pursue. I strongly believe that this was a pivotal factor in the creation of a new health exam, as high-school health teachers obviously don’t want to lose their jobs. So thus the new health test was born, with it’s record low passing rates and with health classes being filled to the brim. Straight A students have recently been denied the opportunity to challenge themselves as they must now incorporate this tedious class into their schedule. I took the health test in the Spring, and I failed by just 3 questions. I studied for hours on end, but I still was no match to the absurd guessing game the new test has become. I previously held no grudge against the test, but upon learning that not a soul passed, I’ve decided it’s time to speak up. And to the health teachers reading this, consider this a challenge. I want you to take that exact same test and pass with a grade of above average. You do that, and I will start to believe that the test actually tests your ability, and not just your degree of luck.

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