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Hundreds of LAUSD seniors can’t take exit exam to graduate

Craig Clough | July 7, 2015

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diplomaAn estimated 400 LA Unified seniors without their high school diplomas this summer may have already graduated … or they may not have, and there is nothing they can do about it at the moment.

The state’s decision to suspend the July California High School Exit Exam (CASHEE) while the state Legislature debates its future has put the district students in limbo until they are either able to take the test, or the state does away with it.

As it stands, Senate Bill 172, which would suspend the test for three years while an advisory group of experts studies its usefulness, has passed the California Senate and is being considered by the Assembly. Critics of the test have argued it is outdated and no longer in alignment with the new Common Core standards. But until the bill is either signed by Governor Jerry Brown or fails, the students are caught in between.

LA Unified isn’t exactly sure how many of its students are in limbo, but estimates it to be 400, based on how many students took the July exam last year, according to Gayle Pollard-Terry, a spokeswoman for the district.

Students have a total of eight opportunities during their sophomore, junior and senior years to pass the test, which is actually two tests measuring math and English skills. Passing both parts of the test has been required for high school graduation since 2006. Seniors who have not passed the test are able to take it in July.

“Most of the students do pass both parts of CAHSEE by the time they end their 12th grade school year. Those that do not pass are given the opportunity to come in July,” Pollard-Terry said in an email.

Last year, 68 percent of LA Unified sophomores, 80 percent of juniors, and 87 percent of seniors passed the test.

Assemblyman Jose Medina, a Riverside Republican, said an amendment will be added to the bill, enabling last year’s seniors who haven’t passed to get their diplomas when the bill becomes law, as long as they meet all other graduation requirements, according to the Press Enterprise.

Students who had met all other graduation requirements except the CASHEE were unable to participate in graduation ceremonies.

“Per district policies, students who did not meet graduation requirements were not permitted to participate in the graduation ceremonies,” Pollard-Terry said.



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