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Editorial: California should keep the high school exit exam

LA School Report | June 10, 2015

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By The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

California’s high school exit exam is certainly due for revision. The test, which requires high school graduates to demonstrate reasonably proficient reading and math skills to graduate, is out of step with the newly adopted Common Core standards, and aligning it with the new curriculum is important. But eliminating it altogether would devalue diplomas and make new graduates less employable.

Yet the Legislature appears headed toward exactly that, which would be a major mistake. The exit exam was put in place in 2006 to counter grade inflation and social promotion, after too many students with high school diplomas were found to lack the basic skills needed for even modest jobs. Rising graduation rates are desirable, but only if they indicate a better-educated populace.

SB 172, which passed the Senate last week, would eliminate the test for at least three years while an advisory panel examines whether the state should have any kind of exit exam at all, and if so, what minimum standards it should set for high school graduation and how a new test would be designed.

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