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EDUCATION with Student News

Quick Guide & Transcript: California students face exit exams, Hip-hop goes to the Smithsonian

(CNN Student News) -- March 6, 2006

Quick Guide

Exam Anxiety - Find out what kind of test is standing between some California students and their high school diplomas.

Weighty Issues - Discuss the pros and cons of testing students' body mass indexes during school hours.

Hip-hop History - Meet some hip-hop pioneers who are happy to see their genre taking the stage at the Smithsonian.



SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks for kicking off a new week with CNN Student News! I'm Susan Hendricks at the CNN Center. Some California students are one step away from graduation. But there's a new test standing between them and their high school diplomas. These moves may be more your parents' style, than your own. But they started a genre that's taking its place in the Smithsonian Institution. And it's anything but an easy trip through the Alaskan wilderness. But the sled-dogs who power it, can't wait to dig their paws into the snow.

First Up: Exam Anxiety

HENDRICKS: Let's say you do all your homework, study for all your tests, and are looking forward to high school graduation. But before you're given that diploma, you're given one more test to pass. And if you blow it, you're stuck. It's called an "exit exam," and for the first time, it's required for California's seniors. Jen Rogers tells us how many students have yet to pass it.


JEN ROGERS, CNN REPORTER: These California high school seniors go to school and pass their classes, but that still might not be enough to graduate.

This year, if they want that diploma, they're gonna have to pass the California high school exit exam as well.

VINCENT ALDERSON, STUDENT: I'm really nervous about taking the test. This is my last year here so I got to pass this.

ROGERS: These seniors have had five chances to get at least 51% of the questions right on the two day math and English language-arts exam. Now with the last test date just weeks away many are anxious.

MARCUS HILL, STUDENT: If I don't pass this, I don't know what I'll do.

ROGERS: Math teacher Desiree McNeal is trying to prepare students at Los Angeles' Dorsey High School for the three hour, multiple choice math portion.

DESIREE MCNEAL, MATH TEACHER: I think that the reality of not earning a high school diploma is beginning to become real to them and they're faced with the aspect of not having that opportunity and it frightens them.

ROGERS: Opponents of the controversial exam say it unfairly punishes the students that need help the most.

DR. RUSSELL RUMBERGER, EDUCATION PROFESSOR, UCSB: Right now the pass rate for English learners is about 50 percent and for special ed students its about 25 or 30 percent. So they are going to be highly adversely affected by this exam for right now.

ROGERS: Nearly half the states in the country have a standardized exit exam and California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, who wrote the legislation creating the test, says it helps identify those students who have fallen behind.

JACK O'CONNELL, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: It's much more important to me that our students have the skills necessary to to not only survive but to thrive in this new global economy and that's more important to me than simply having a piece of paper.

ROGERS: Proponents say the test, mostly eighth grade level math and tenth grade level English, shows students have a minimum level of basic knowledge. But an estimated fifteen percent of the state's seniors still have not passed the test. Jen Rogers, CNN, Los Angeles.


Word to the Wise


body mass index (BMI): (noun) a measurement of the relative amounts of fat and muscle mass in the human body

Source: www.dictionary.comexternal link

Weighty Issues

HENDRICKS: If you're pumped up from training for a school sport, your Body Mass Index could still indicate you're overweight. That's because it only uses weight and height to calculate body fat percentages-- not muscle measurements. Still, some kids may not want to have their BMI checked at school. As Gary Nurenberg explains, that could be a problem in Maryland, where some school officials want mandatory BMI tests.


GARY NURENBERG, CNN REPORTER: Parents watching a children's basketball game in Maryland Saturday morning had mixed feelings about a plan to have schools measure their kids for excess fat.

RHONDA WILSON, MOTHER OF TWO SONS: I'm not sure how I fell about it being mandatory, but I feel its a good idea to present.

NURENBERG: Not a universal sentiment.

AVA LAWSON, MOTHER OF TWO: I don't feel as though its the school's responsibility.

NURENBERG: Three states specifically require students to take the fat exam..called a "body mass index test," another seven allow them. Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky says schools have an obligation to fight fat in kids.

SEN. PAUL PINSKY: The CDC calls it an epidemic and I don't think the school system should put our heads in the sand.

NURENBERG: The Centers for Disease Control estimates 16 percent of American children between six and nine are overweight, 65 percent of adults.

NURENBERG: A CNN-USA-Today-Gallop Poll last month shows 96 percent of Americans believe overweight children to be an extremely serious, a very serious, or a moderately serious problem.

PINSKY: I think anything we can do to start to address the problem is better than just to ignore it, because it's here, its getting worse and so far steps haven't worked.

NURENBERG: Pinsky has lobbied for healthier school lunches and has convinced the Maryland legislature to require timers on school vending machines, stopping junk food sales until after lunch, but his plan to test for body fat is in trouble.

DR DANIEL LEVY PRESIDENT ELECT, AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS: We feel that the body mass index is something that should be measured in a doctor's office and then acted on appropriately.

NURENBERG: Medical and psychiatric groups in Maryland oppose the fat test, fearing it could push kids into unsafe weight loss and encourage ridicule.

DANIEL LEVIN: Kids talk and no matter how jealously you guard that information, word can get out that some children may be in trouble.

NURENBERG: As children's waistlines continue to grow, the fight over fat tests is likely to grow as well. Gary Nurenberg, CNN Washington.



HENDRICKS: So what can be done about it? Well, start with today's activity at It helps your students understand what role fat plays in their overall health and why being overweight can be dangerous. They'll also consider how to tackle this issue in their school.

Word to the Wise: Extra Credit

AZUZ: A Word to the Wise Extra Credit...

genre: (noun) a type; a category of artistic composition marked by a distinctive style

Source: www.dictionary.comexternal link

Hip-hop History

HENDRICKS: You probably know who "P. Diddy" and the "Black-Eyed Peas" are... But what about "Fab Five Freddy" or "Grandmaster Flash"? They're some of the guys who helped get hip-hop off the ground. The musical genre is now being recognized, by the Smithsonian Institution. Chris Huntington shows how the music's moved from the south Bronx, in New York, to the prestigious museum in Washington, DC.


CHRIST HUNTINGTON, CNN REPORTER: In the late 70's, groups like the Sugar Hill Gang as well as DJs, MCs, graffiti artists and break-dancers from New York's South Bronx created a cultural phenomenon known as hip-hop. 30 years later, the Smithsonian Institution is collecting hip-hop memorabilia for a permanent exhibit it hopes to unveil within three to five years. Marvette Perez is the curator.

MARVETTE PEREZ, SMITHSONIAN CURATOR: To ignore it or not take into consideration, not only the impact it has had on the culture, economics, in commerce, in sports, would be to ignore I think something important about urban culture, the history of urban America.

HUNTINGTON: DJ Grandmaster Caz and photographer Joe Conzo are two of hip-hop's pioneers. They applaud the Smithsonian's plan.

GRANDMASTER CAZ: It's a blessing for hip hop. It's a blessing for rap music.

JOE CONZO, HIP-HOP PHOTOGRAPHER: I hear Smithsonian....that is America's museum and it's long overdue.

HUNTINGTON: They should know they were there when it all started.

CONZO: I documented the birth of a genre of music that I had no idea back then thirty years later would be a multibillion dollar industry.

CAZ: And you notice this is way before the bling bling era and all the cars, cause you notice we on a bike. On a 10 speed.

HUNTINGTON: Perez has already collected such classic hip-hop artifacts as Grandmaster Flash's turntables, the jackets of legendary breakdancer, Crazy Legs, and Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa. And concert T-shirts of rapper Ice-T.

ICE-T, RAPPER, ACTOR: Its absolutely fly, you know, coming from something that was supposed to been a fad, and now to be accepted in something as prestigious as the Smithsonian Institute, that's a great thing.

HUNTINGTON: But hip-hop is not all rhymes and good times...It has spawned gangsta rap with its idolization of thuggery and tough-guys shooting each other, sometimes mirrored in real life at concerts. But Perez says that element will be in the exhibit.

PEREZ: We will get criticism, of course, but we cannot ignore it and not deal with it because then we would not be doing justice to it, we would be hypocritical.

HUNTINGTON: The hip-hop pioneers just hope the Smithsonian doesn't gloss-over how it all started.

CAZ: it's very important that this culture be documented. And not only for it to be documented for when it became a household word or full-blown entity. But documented from the beginning. From it's roots -- to where it started.

HUNTINGTON: Chris Huntington, CNN, New York.


Before We Go

HENDRICKS: Before we go... If we said "mush," you might think, "a bowl of old oatmeal." You might also think "sled dogs!" The famous sled-dog race called the I-ditarod, started over the weekend. It's an 1,100 mile trip through the Alaskan wilderness. It was inspired by a race against the clock in 1925, when dogsled teams delivered medicine to treat a disease called diptheria. Today's 10-day trek through the tundra, carries a cash reward. By the way, the word "mush" tells the dogs, "let's go!"


HENDRICKS: That completes our program today. For CNN Student News, I'm Susan Hendricks. More headline news is heading your way.

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