Two points.

If Telesis Radford scored two points higher on the math portion of the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE), the last nine years of her life may have turned out very differently. Radford, 27, had the credits she needed to graduate from Santa Rosa High School in 2006, but because she fell just short of passing the state’s new required test for high school seniors, she never received her high school diploma.

While Radford was awarded a “certificate of completion” to show she finished all her high school coursework, not having her diploma meant many career options were unavailable to her. Even in fields like massage therapy, she could only go so far without proving to employers that she graduated.

Radford wants to be a phlebotomy technician – the person who takes your blood at places like the Red Cross. She’s currently taking a GED course in Santa Rosa, reviewing the same material in science, English and social sciences she learned in classes she passed in high school nearly a decade ago. Without her high school diploma, she can’t get into the phlebotomy technician program she needs to start her career. Radford currently works in an administrative capacity for the Red Cross.

Radford is one of thousands of Californians who passed their high school classes but didn’t receive a high school diploma because they failed the CAHSEE. Gov. Jerry Brown has until Oct. 11 to sign a bill that would retroactively grant diplomas to people in situations similar to Radford’s.

EdSource followed Radford and her husband, Adam Lance, through a typical afternoon as she studied for her GED. We asked how the last decade might have been different for her if she had passed the CAHSEE.

John C. Osborn contributed to this report.


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  1. Adult Ed Student 10 months ago10 months ago

    Congratulations Telesis, you will now get your diploma under SB172. Yeah, for me, I do not have to take the test in Adult Ed at 50 years old to get my diploma. Finally all those who did not get their diploma because of the test can get their diplomas. The test is really an indictor of the school performance and ability to teach the test to students, yet it is the students who have … Read More

    Congratulations Telesis, you will now get your diploma under SB172. Yeah, for me, I do not have to take the test in Adult Ed at 50 years old to get my diploma. Finally all those who did not get their diploma because of the test can get their diplomas. The test is really an indictor of the school performance and ability to teach the test to students, yet it is the students who have been punished. School teaches a great deal to students and it is not limited to English and math. It was unreasonable to require a test to get a diploma, since a single test can not determine one’s intelligence. Like me, a high school drop out in the 1970’s who went on to build my own company with over 50 employees. Yet I can not meet the requirements for a job at Burger King because I need a diploma. Not sure what algebra skills you need to flip burgers. Success is not a link to a diploma, but a lack of one can bar one from a job.

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    • Telesis 10 months ago10 months ago

      @Adult Ed Student, Thank you so much,this has been 9 years in the making and I am finally getting what is rightfully mine...my high school diploma. I will be able to attend the college I want and get the job I want,I will no longer have to struggle and I am truly Blessed for that. I am happy you will be getting yours,wow you built your own company?!?!that is awesome to hear and I hope many More … Read More

      @Adult Ed Student,
      Thank you so much,this has been 9 years in the making and I am finally getting what is rightfully mine…my high school diploma. I will be able to attend the college I want and get the job I want,I will no longer have to struggle and I am truly Blessed for that.
      I am happy you will be getting yours,wow you built your own company?!?!that is awesome to hear and I hope many More Blessings come your way. It’s upsetting that a test can determine your fate,but I am happy I did NOT give up, I am still in awe of all of this and I am still taking it all in. It is so crazy how a high school diploma can say whether you get the job you want or get into the college of you have been waiting to get into for years… I am just so happy this is happening for me, and many more who are in my situation.

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