News

California high school exit exams suspended

by JUSTIN KANG

Students are no longer taking the California High School Exit Exam, due to state law that suspends it, also allowing students who were unable to graduate because of the exam to receive their diplomas.

The California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) has been suspended for the next three years after the bill 172 passed both the state Assembly and Senate, and was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Oct. 7. The bill will put the exam on hold until the 2017 school year, and allows the state education board to create a new test with standards aligned with Common Core.

“Common Core is what we should be doing, everything should be tied to Common Core, especially if we want to measure student progress via SBAC,” said Constantino Duarte, assistant principal. “To give them something that doesn’t relate to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is not fair to students.”

Problems regarding the exam occurred much earlier in the year when the state cancelled the July exams for students who had yet to pass causing uncertainty amongst students and parents. The cancellation was due to the contract between state lawmakers and the exams testing company, Educational Testing Service, which had expired after the May exam.

The issue garnered the attention of Gov. Brown, who had also signed SB 725, which exempted the class of 2015 from taking the exam. The bill allowed roughly 5,000 seniors, who met all the other requirements to graduate except for passing the exit exam, to receive their diplomas.

Senate Bill 172 also states that all school districts shall be granting diplomas of graduation to any student who have been unable to graduate since 2003.

The Montebello Unified School District is taking action to contact students from the 2014-15 school year who benefit from the bill’s provisions and is allowing them to participate in October graduations. Starting Jan. 1, 2016, any other students who completed grade 12 from the year 2003 and after, will be able to obtain their diplomas from the district, or at the school where they completed grade 12.

The CAHSEE was created to ensure public high school students met the states standards in reading, writing and math, according to cde.ca.gov. The exam was first required for the class of 2006, and has been a requirement ever since for public school students to receive diplomas.

“I thought it was a pretty fair test,” said Eduardo Villanueva, math teacher. “I think it is good to have some type of bar [for students].”

In recent years, however, the adoption of the CCSS has replaced the standards used in the current exams, prompting many to speculate about whether the exam should be just be terminated completely, according to edsource.org.

“Who knows? We will see if it comes back in some other shape or form,” said Mejia. “But for right now, it looks like these kids need to pass their classes, meet their requirements and they are good to go.”

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