Tennyson High students rally for exit exam



Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday (front row third from left) joins Tennyson High School staff on Wednesday for a rally to motivate students to do well in the High School Exit Exams scheduled on March 17 and 18.

Bryan Cordova,
Managing Editor

Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday and Hayward Unified School District Superintendent Stanley Dobbs joined teachers at Tennyson High School Wednesday to deliver some encouraging words to students preparing for their upcoming CAHSEE or California High School Exit Exam, a statewide requirement for graduation in high schools since 2004. Students take the exam March 17 and 18.

More than 200 sophomores filled the school’s gymnasium, dubbed the “Lancer Dome,” each with a packet of papers in their hands: some of the school’s teachers had prepared sample questions and hints in an attempt to help the students pass the state exam.

Taslin Kimball, a math teacher at the school, lead the students in a chant asking if they were ready.

Once they simmered down, she showed them an equation on a flip board with an explanation on how to solve percentages.

“When dealing with percentage changes, all you need to do is put the new number over the original,” she explained. She then asked them a question about movie ticket price changes, to which the majority of students shouted back their answers.

After her presentation, Tennyson Principal Lori Villanueva introduced Mr. Jackson, or Coach Jackson as the students call him, a dropout intervention specialist that was hired as part of a $276,000 grant given to California State University, East Bay from AT&T to support the Hayward Promise Neighborhood initiative, which aims to provide educational and social support to local communities. His chant with the students was met with the loudest response at the rally.

Superintendent Dobbs was given a blue hat with the Lancers mascot on it as a gift from some of the students, and then gave a speech on how important the CAHSEE exam would be for the rest of the student’s lives.

He reminded them that many Lancers have taken the exam, and that they could not graduate without passing it.

“You can finish with a 4.0, but if you do not pass this exam, you will not pass high school. You must have 212 credits and you have to pass the CAHSEE exam to graduate,” Dobbs said.

The CAHSEE was designed as a test for high school students to  improve student achievement and ensure that public school students meet grade level competency in reading, writing and math.

If students fail their sophomore year, they are allowed to take it again twice in their junior year, and up to five times in their senior year.

The exam was first adopted as a test for ninth graders in 2001. The ninth graders that failed had to retake the test the following year.

Jackson and the Hayward Promise Neighborhood, one of the programs begun in 2010 as part of a mandate from President Obama, put the rally together. Hayward Promise Neighborhood attempts to build on the success of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a similar program that helps prepare underserved youth for college education, according to Lauren Pitcher, communications manager for HPN.

Hayward Promise Neighborhood received a five-year, $25 million grant in 2011 and is now on their fourth year.

This year they are focusing on high school programs and outreach as part of their five year plan.

“This is the first year that we’ve done an event to motivate the 10th graders,” said According to Emily Cho of Hayward Promise Neighborhood. “The test is coming up, so before they enter test-taking mode, we wanted to put something together to alleviate their stress.”

The Hayward Promise Neighborhood initiative is based at Cal State East Bay, and works to provide tutors to Tennyson High School. For more information on becoming a tutor, students can go online to visit www.haywardpromise.org.