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State Senate votes to end California high school exit test

Vanessa Romo | June 3, 2015



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sacramento_state_capital_houseThe last test for California high school seniors is one step closer to elimination.

Maybe.

The state Senate voted yesterday to suspend the California High School Exit Exam for three years, starting in 2016-17 through 2018-19, and lift the requirement for all high school students to pass the test as a condition for graduation.

Carol Liu, Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge, who authored SB 172, argues the CAHSEE has become outdated and is measuring old standards. The test, implemented in 1999, has not been updated for alignment to the Common Core Standards and is therefore “aligned to standards that are no longer in place,” she said.

Under the new plan, the State’s Superintendent of Public Instruction would form an advisory panel to develop recommendations on the future of the CAHSEE or create alternative tests during the period of suspension.

But those opposed to the bill are frustrated by the possible gap in testing.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff criticized the vote in a statement today, calling it “a step backwards in educational accountability.”

In a speech to keep the CAHSEE in place, he scoffed at the idea of an advisory committee. “Folks, it’s going to be studied to death, it will be killed and in the meantime our diploma will mean pretty much nothing,” he said, adding, “Until we come up with a replacement, let’s not set up another advisory panel to make a recommendation that will not be adopted.”

With the exception of a fifth grade science exam, the CAHSEE is the only state-wide standardized test still in place. All of the others have been dropped and will be replaced by the Smarter Balanced exam.

The bill is headed to the state Assembly next. But the clock is ticking. If the Assembly fails to vote on the bill before August, it becomes a two-year bill that would push changes further into the future.

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