Theresa Harrington
Richmond High Counselor Edel Alejandre, second from right, joins his students outside the school to discuss their options after they were unable to take the exit exam in July because it was cancelled.

The state Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved SB 725, which would eliminate the requirement for class of 2015 seniors to pass the California High School Exit Exam.

Some seniors who were planning to take the exam in July are in limbo after the California Department of Education abruptly cancelled it.

The bill, which originally called for the development of new visual and performing arts content standards, this week was gutted and amended by its author, Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland. The action will replace language in the original bill with new wording exempting the students from the requirement to pass the exam to receive a diploma.

“She wanted to put this forward because of the 5,000 students who can’t graduate because they can’t take a test that doesn’t exist anymore,” said Larry Levin, a spokesman for Hancock. “That’s why it was amended into another bill of hers.”

Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland

Courtesy of Sen. Loni Hancock

Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland

Levin said he expects the full Assembly to vote on the bill Thursday. Since it includes an urgency clause, it would require two-thirds approval to pass.

But Levin said he doesn’t expect that to be a problem, since all Republicans on the Appropriations Committee approved it and there was no public opposition.

If approved by the Assembly, Levin said the bill would head to the Senate for approval on Monday and could reach Gov. Jerry Brown as early as Monday afternoon.

“So, theoretically, he could sign it Monday night and it could be law at midnight,” Levin said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Senators Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Carol Liu, D-Canada Flintridge are principal co-authors of the bill, along with Assemblymen David Chiu and Phil Ting, who are both San Francisco Democrats. Liu has also authored SB 172, which would suspend the exit exam through 2017-18.

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  1. Parent 1 year ago1 year ago

    I think the union-istas initially favored Common Core because they were promised a break from standardized testing.
    Once they got the break, now they are against Common Core (or say it’s still a “work in progress”) in order to delay the return of standardized testing.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

      Parent:

      So what CA teachers’ unions are against CCSS? And, since professional development is still being developed and implemented, text materials are not yet available, and teachers are just transitioning to in the classrooms, how would you describe it if not “a work in progress?”

  2. Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

    There are "standards" in place for HS graduation, as there always have been. Those are teachers' grades, still a more accurate reflection of student performance than any test, and whatever graduation requirements are adopted by districts within the framework of statute. There are those who have an abstract appreciation for tests, because they are tests. But there is considerable information available to support the actions of CDE and the legislature, because HS exit exams have … Read More

    There are “standards” in place for HS graduation, as there always have been. Those are teachers’ grades, still a more accurate reflection of student performance than any test, and whatever graduation requirements are adopted by districts within the framework of statute.

    There are those who have an abstract appreciation for tests, because they are tests. But there is considerable information available to support the actions of CDE and the legislature, because HS exit exams have done nothing to improve learning and have done much to discourage disadvantaged students and suppress graduation rates.

    Replies

    • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

      It’s probably true what Gary says that teacher grades suffice, but only because the CAHSEE bar is so abysmally low that even failing grades may equate to higher performance. That said, I fully suspect that there are many passing grades given by teachers to failing students. They call it social promotion, giving kids a chance through a false sense of accomplishment.

      • TheMorrigan 1 year ago1 year ago

        While there is no doubt in my mind that grade inflation exists and it is a problem (how much of a problem is debatable), people should realize that grade "deflation" does, too. And in my mind, it is equal to the problem of grade inflation. There are many little department fiefdoms and mini-professors working tirelessly out there in high schools that the press incorrectly lumps together with the "bad teachers." They are not necessarily bad … Read More

        While there is no doubt in my mind that grade inflation exists and it is a problem (how much of a problem is debatable), people should realize that grade “deflation” does, too. And in my mind, it is equal to the problem of grade inflation. There are many little department fiefdoms and mini-professors working tirelessly out there in high schools that the press incorrectly lumps together with the “bad teachers.” They are not necessarily bad teachers; they just employ draconian grading practices.They are also annual migraines for administrators.

        Before Gary slaps me around, I want to point out that I personally like grades as better barometers of success, too, especially since it is a culmination of an entire semester’s effort, its rises and falls, unlike the snapshot of a single test where some of the material hasn’t been covered for over 6 months time and where so much depends on the red wheelbarrow of one or two questions.

        • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

          The only "grade inflation" I am aware of that occurred in the 40 years relates to "extra" grade points awarded to students for taking honors level and/or AP courses. In other words students taking more advanced courses would get 5 grade points for an "A" grade instead of the traditional 4. This results in some students having a cumulative GPA of more than 4.0, like 4.3 for example. They would get 4 points for a … Read More

          The only “grade inflation” I am aware of that occurred in the 40 years relates to “extra” grade points awarded to students for taking honors level and/or AP courses. In other words students taking more advanced courses would get 5 grade points for an “A” grade instead of the traditional 4. This results in some students having a cumulative GPA of more than 4.0, like 4.3 for example. They would get 4 points for a “B.” This is regarded as an incentive and reward for students taking the more demanding courses.

          Though teachers have some discretion in awarding a “D” grade (passing) rather than an “F” (failing with no credit) I am not sure why some insist that teachers would “inflate grades” in some consistent way. I am also unsure where anyone would be able to get a shred of evidence to suggest “grade inflation” is actually occurring.

          • Don 1 year ago1 year ago

            There's no evidence because it's encased in cement under a construction site. We could access STAR data at the school-wide grade level, but not by individual classroom. The was just too much information for the CTA. If we could compare the aggregate classroom grade relative to the classroom STAR results there would be a barometer of grade inflation. But grades have been kept off the airwaves just for this reason under the trumped up rationale … Read More

            There’s no evidence because it’s encased in cement under a construction site. We could access STAR data at the school-wide grade level, but not by individual classroom. The was just too much information for the CTA. If we could compare the aggregate classroom grade relative to the classroom STAR results there would be a barometer of grade inflation. But grades have been kept off the airwaves just for this reason under the trumped up rationale of teacher and student confidentiality. That we can’t is the reason there’s no evidence. How else would you determine grade inflation except by comparing to a universal standard?

            The other myth in Gary’s comment is that grade inflation doesn’t exist. Haha. Students constantly complain about how difficult one teacher is compared to another. And how anyone could dispute that is beyond me.

  3. Frances O'Neill Zimmerman 1 year ago1 year ago

    The State Department of Education and Democrat-dominated California Legislature ought to identify itself as the legislative wing of the California Teachers Association. For State Education Superintendent Tom Torlakson to drop the CA High School Exit Exam even before it was officially obsolete, thereby bollixing up the prospects for some high school seniors who had not yet passed it is bad enough. But not to replace this high school commencement benchmark with an appropriate successor and … Read More

    The State Department of Education and Democrat-dominated California Legislature ought to identify itself as the
    legislative wing of the California Teachers Association.

    For State Education Superintendent Tom Torlakson to drop the CA High School Exit Exam even before
    it was officially obsolete, thereby bollixing up the prospects for some high school seniors who had not yet
    passed it is bad enough. But not to replace this high school commencement benchmark with an appropriate
    successor and for the Legislature to hasten CAHSEE’s total burial is profoundly sad.

    Replies

      • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

        I agree with Don (below), the SB 725 action today was damage control. And with Zimmerman (above) that the right way to deal with the prospect of new academic (common core) content standards is to produce a replacement test before suspending or discontinuing an old test. Discontinuing the exit exam is a decision for the legislature, not the SSPI or CDE. Suspending it is prejudicing any future decision to maintain or discontinue a statewide minimum … Read More

        I agree with Don (below), the SB 725 action today was damage control. And with Zimmerman (above) that the right way to deal with the prospect of new academic (common core) content standards is to produce a replacement test before suspending or discontinuing an old test. Discontinuing the exit exam is a decision for the legislature, not the SSPI or CDE. Suspending it is prejudicing any future decision to maintain or discontinue a statewide minimum achievement standard for high school graduation. Why doesn’t the EdSource post include frustration voiced by minority leader Kristen Olsen this morning requesting the legislature mandate an exit exam be implemented next year, but not to leave it to CDE who “is not interested in an exit exam anytime soon,” or include the failure of Asm Educ Comm Chair Patrick O’Donnell to answer a question from another legislator why CDE did not provide a substitute exam if CAHSEE was not available. Could it be that EdSource is taking sides on this contentious statewide assessment program issue, rather than providing balanced reporting?

        • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

          Isn’t there a minimum achievement implied by the edcode-defined list of classes required to earn a diploma?

          • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

            Navigio — Taking a class is not a measure of achievement . . . it’s seat time, not achievement.

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              Well taking a class is not the same thing as passing a class. And if that were true, it wouldn’t matter what classes they were.
              The grades one gets in the the graduation required classes seems to have been a much larger barrier than CAHSEE.

            • Manuel 1 year ago1 year ago

              Doug, passing a test is not a measure of "academic achievement" either. If anything, the test was a low bar. Yet, it is a fact that "A" students could get "far below basic" scores in the old CST. Which, by the way, are no longer available for easy inspection (and even difficult to access). I wonder why "they" don't want people looking at old scores (and possibly APIs, but I did not go looking for them). Read More

              Doug, passing a test is not a measure of “academic achievement” either.

              If anything, the test was a low bar. Yet, it is a fact that “A” students could get “far below basic” scores in the old CST. Which, by the way, are no longer available for easy inspection (and even difficult to access).

              I wonder why “they” don’t want people looking at old scores (and possibly APIs, but I did not go looking for them).

            • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

              Navigio -- Yes, grades in required classes are a measure of achievement, but due to differences from teacher to teacher that aggregate up to schools and districts, teacher grades are not considered sufficiently comparable to serve as a statewide measure of achievement. In addition, in general grades have not been considered to have the validity reliability fairness characteristics that large scale K-12 tests serving as measures of achievement are required to have. It may well … Read More

              Navigio — Yes, grades in required classes are a measure of achievement, but due to differences from teacher to teacher that aggregate up to schools and districts, teacher grades are not considered sufficiently comparable to serve as a statewide measure of achievement. In addition, in general grades have not been considered to have the validity reliability fairness characteristics that large scale K-12 tests serving as measures of achievement are required to have. It may well be that for many schools or districts, teacher grades do represent a higher bar than the minimum bar represented by an exit exam. But that is not a negative for a statewide minimum standard exit exam, rather such a test represents a measure of achievement to address the issues raised when a school or district has teacher grading practices that become a lower bar than the exit exam bar.

            • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

              Manuel — In most quarters, large scale standardized tests are considered a measure of achievement. Not perfect measures, nothing is. Even a low bar doesn’t disqualify a test from being a measure of achievement, just perhaps not a credible measure in the eyes of the folks opining it is a low bar.

          • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

            Doug: And yet there is plenty of evidence that teachers' grades have more validity, reliability, and fairness that two widely used (I should mention less widely used) tests, the SAT or ACT when it comes to predicting one measure of academic "achievement," and that is the likelihood of succeeding at college. Both tests have had decades to get it right and both are being dropped by colleges because they give a less accurate and comprehensive picture … Read More

            Doug:

            And yet there is plenty of evidence that teachers’ grades have more validity, reliability, and fairness that two widely used (I should mention less widely used) tests, the SAT or ACT when it comes to predicting one measure of academic “achievement,” and that is the likelihood of succeeding at college. Both tests have had decades to get it right and both are being dropped by colleges because they give a less accurate and comprehensive picture of student ability than grades, HS GPA, and class standing. And this goes for teachers’ grades from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine. Teacher given grades, in the aggregate, are the most accurate measures. I don’t believe there is any evidence to suggest the CAHSEE or the CSTs can match grades. About SBAC, we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime grades are there and parents can have confidence that they do quite nicely to “measure” student academic performance. Knowing this, colleges paid very little attention to CST results in the main.

            • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

              Gary -- The CSTs were designed to measure the results of instruction for K-12 education, not specifically to predict success in college. SAT/ACT have a long record of validity reliability fairness for predicting success in college, no requirement for the CSTs to match that aspect of achievement. My recollection of the literature to support the SAT/ACT record is that SAT/ACT together with high school grades provide the best predictions for college success, not one or … Read More

              Gary — The CSTs were designed to measure the results of instruction for K-12 education, not specifically to predict success in college. SAT/ACT have a long record of validity reliability fairness for predicting success in college, no requirement for the CSTs to match that aspect of achievement. My recollection of the literature to support the SAT/ACT record is that SAT/ACT together with high school grades provide the best predictions for college success, not one or the other alone. Your line of argument above is nothing more than a smokescreen to hide an underlying position opposing statewide tests to measure the results of K-12 instruction.

            • navigio 1 year ago1 year ago

              there is a distinction between achievement tests and aptitude tests. thats probably a useful thing to understand in such a discussion.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Doug: I have supported reasonable state testing and still do. It should be matrix style that takes minimal time and and yet can cover all the standards. It would also minimize "teaching to the test," or transform it into a teaching to the test that matters. Results would be at district level for the most part and give some direction to improve instruction. The remainder of meaningful testing would be done by teachers as has been … Read More

              Doug:

              I have supported reasonable state testing and still do. It should be matrix style that takes minimal time and and yet can cover all the standards. It would also minimize “teaching to the test,” or transform it into a teaching to the test that matters. Results would be at district level for the most part and give some direction to improve instruction. The remainder of meaningful testing would be done by teachers as has been the case of hundreds of years.

              What you say about testing for college does not explain why so many institutions are giving up on the two national tests, or making them optional. I believe we have previously discussed on this site that, in the face of the jingoistic banning of traditional affirmative action, the UC system is having good success with accepting students who do not do well on the traditional tests.

              I could say, “Your line of argument above is nothing more than a smokescreen to hide an underlying position opposing” the elimination of too many useless tests, the abusive use of tests for pseudo-accountability reasons, and an “underlying” appreciation of tests for the sake of tests. However, that would be disrespectful.

              Testing, and how it has been applied to judge schools and teachers, has been much like judging a chili contest by counting the beans. The numbers of beans in each type of chili entered in the contest could be laid out in spread sheets, and that would excite those who love numbers and spread sheets in an abstract manner. Wouldn’t really tell you much about the critical aspects of the contest though, and that is taste. And taste depends on the science and artistry of the cook. Artistry is very hard to pin down with numbers and spread sheets.

            • Doug McRae 1 year ago1 year ago

              Gary -- Matrix tests have not been used for any statewide testing programs since the late 90's or very early 00's, to my knowledge. The fundamental problem is not enough students at the school level (and many times at the district level) to execute a matrix design and get valid reliable fair scores at the school or district level. And, of course, matrix tests do not yield comparable individual student scores. Scores at the student … Read More

              Gary — Matrix tests have not been used for any statewide testing programs since the late 90’s or very early 00’s, to my knowledge. The fundamental problem is not enough students at the school level (and many times at the district level) to execute a matrix design and get valid reliable fair scores at the school or district level. And, of course, matrix tests do not yield comparable individual student scores. Scores at the student level as well as for all schools and districts, regardless of size [except for 10 students or less, for privacy reasons] have been part of the specifications for statewide tests since the late 90’s, and matrix tests do not meet these specs. Other than use for test development or research purposes (for instance, item-tryouts) matrix designs are just not feasible given the current specifications for statewide testing programs.

              On your last point, I’ve always considered test development work and interpretation of large scale test results to be more art than science. Sure, it involves use of numbers and spreadsheets or whatever quantitative tools might be used, but more importantly it involves understanding where the numbers come from to properly interpret the numbers. But the art is the judgment involved when to use the data and when not to use or overuse the data. Using test results “in the abstract” is nothing more than poor test use. And I’d agree that there is too much misuse of statewide test results, but I’d also claim that the amount of good and appropriate use outweighs the amount of poor or inappropriate use. Clearly, reasonable folks can agree to disagree on this last statement, hopefully without disrespect or loaded language.

            • Gary Ravani 1 year ago1 year ago

              Doug: Yes, matrix tests have not been widely used, though a good argument can be made that they should have been as they have the potential to offer better information that informs instruction. Matrix design can encompass more (if not all) of the standards in place and, as a time saving device, they offer the potential to offer more performance based assessments which can do a better job of telling educators what they need to know. … Read More

              Doug:

              Yes, matrix tests have not been widely used, though a good argument can be made that they should have been as they have the potential to offer better information that informs instruction. Matrix design can encompass more (if not all) of the standards in place and, as a time saving device, they offer the potential to offer more performance based assessments which can do a better job of telling educators what they need to know. Individual “comparisons” of students are not one of those things except in the case of “outliers,” that is kids with specific learning problems best approached via individualized tests. Teacher can do a fine job of making those refers sans state tests.

              I belive we have both been present at SBE meeting when discussion has occurred re using matrix design for social studies tests (and science tests?) in the future.

              I stated that the results could be made known at the district level “where possible” realizing that the cohort size for statistical reliability for a number of districts would be difficult to achieve. If the difficulties can be over come for social studies/science, they can be overcome for math and ELA.

              Your comments re the art of test result information is interesting in a couple of ways. Since the uses of the information are basically subjective they become subject to political winds and and, to this point in time, the winds have been ill. All about wagging fingers, blame, and shame and too little about improving instruction and what supports ought to be available, in and out of school, so that students can be on a level academic playing field. And then, the fact that it is art and art by nature is subjective, that the results and interpretations of test data do not come from on high on stone tablets. They are subject to all the foibles and weakness that go with any human endeavor. They could also be subject to all of the beauty and hope of human endeavors, but to this point that has not occurred and isn’t likely to as long as the testing emphasis is on political objectives rather than educational ones. (See Margaret Spellings statements in Ed Week re “upcoming testing requirements” in NCLB c. 2001 being used to drive vouchers and charters.) So, yes, we agree to disagree.

  4. FloydThursby1941 1 year ago1 year ago

    Make them take the old test. Most would flunk it. They're acting like they're not giving these poor kids a chance but in reality these kids are only victims of their own laziness as only the most lazy and morally bankrupt students have failed this test so many times due to their own choices and bad habits that they are even taking it at the end. These are not victims. These … Read More

    Make them take the old test. Most would flunk it. They’re acting like they’re not giving these poor kids a chance but in reality these kids are only victims of their own laziness as only the most lazy and morally bankrupt students have failed this test so many times due to their own choices and bad habits that they are even taking it at the end. These are not victims. These are the kids in school who go home and won’t open a book. These are the children of parents who spend more time watching TV with their kids than reading with them or helping them with their homework. The test should be way harder. The test was a hedge against social promotion and was watered down and still people say it’s unfair. These kids didn’t do the work and don’t deserve to say they’re high school graduates.

  5. Don 1 year ago1 year ago

    Ernie, read Doug McRae’s comment in the previous article “Legislature expected to exempt…”. He points out the the clear failures on the part of the government that led to this mess. They include at the very least poor planning and negligence, and perhaps collusion and malfeasance. This is a case of cleaning up the mess created at the highest levels of state government, otherwise known as damage control.

  6. Ernie Silva 1 year ago1 year ago

    This is a shining example of the promise of California’s Legislature in addressing education issues. Bipartisan, bicameral and by the end of the week! On behalf of the reengaged dropouts that SIATech serves, a big public thank you to the Legislators and staff who have worked along with Governor Brown’s team and Attorney General Harris to resolve the CAHSEE Conundrum.